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25.03.2004 Business & Finance

Sahara Oil Contract -The facts and nothing… but the facts

By The Statesman
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Far past year, as reported by The Statesman newspaper in its issue of March 18, 2004, the engagement of Sahara Energy Resources to supply crude oil to the Aboadze Thermal Plant has saved the Volta River Authority several millions of dollars since December 2001. The massive savings have been achieved because of the introduction of open competitive tendering, by the former Chief Executive, Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby, which saw the premium paid by VRA for its crude oil fall dramatically from an average of US$3. 60 per barrel, which VRA paid when the NDC was in government, to US$1. 98 in 2002, in the first year of Sahara's engagement.

The savings for the year alone amounted to US$8 million.

The much touted US$2 million 'losses' and the supposedly imminent loss of Sahara's 'juicy contract' as reported by The Statesman, are not founded in fact. Rather they are speculative assumptions and inferences which could have been calculated to force the outcome of the ongoing tender process in a particular company's favour.

Crusading Guide investigations have established that VRA has not completed the evaluation of the recent tender which is the source of the speculative US$2 million saving. The information published by 'The Statesman' newspaper related only to date that was announced at the formal opening of the bids.

Beyond this, there are three further stages of evaluation leading to the award of contract. “The truth is that NO COMPANY has been declared the winner of the on-going tender,” intimated a highly-placed VRA Management source.

Reliable information available to The Crusading Guide suggests that serious doubts have been raised about the transparency and fairness of VRA's recent crude oil tender. Although the tender closed at noon on a Friday, the bids were not opened immediately. Instead, four full days, covering the Independence celebrations weekend, were allowed to elapse before the bids were opened.

In the case of the related bid for the charter of a vessel to carry the crude oil, attempts were made to receive the tender of one bidder beyond the stipulated tender closing time. As with the crude oil tender, there was again a delay of three days (again over a weekend) between the closure and opening of the bids.

Sources have confirmed that, following complaints, protests and representations made by some of the bidders about some of the unorthodox tender procedures, the office of the President instructed VRA to suspend the whole tender process pending the completion of investigations into the various allegations.

“The current campaign against Sahara is the latest instalment of a systematic public campaign by private commercial and opportunistic political interests to tar both the company and the NPP government with sleaze and improper conduct”, an Oil Industry Watcher told newsmen.

Over the past year, the Crusading Guide has reported extensively on the affairs of the VRA. In the course of our investigations, we have received and published several documents to debunk all the vicious and disingenuous charges against the former Chief Executive, Sahara and the Government.

The Crusading Guide