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26.03.2005 General News

TOR to ensure normal fuel supplies

By GNA

Tema, March 26, GNA - The Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) on Saturday assured the nation of normal fuel supplies to the market, saying the burning of its fuel pipeline during a fire outbreak at the PSC Tema Shipyard on Friday should not cause any alarm.

Dr Kofi Kodua Sarpong, Managing Director of TOR, said, in the interim, the refinery had shut down the Crude Distillation Unit and started operating the Residual Fluidised Catalytic Cracking (RFCC) plant to produce gasoline and LPG to ensure uninterrupted supply of fuel products.

He was briefing journalists on Saturday at Tema on measures being taken to restore normal supplies.

Dr Sarpong said with the operation of the RFCC, there was no cause for alarm since the burning of the pipeline would not disrupt operations.

He, however, said the pumping house where seawater was tapped to cool the machines to distil the crude oil had been affected and TOR would resort to fresh water from the Ghana Water Company Limited for its work.

Concerning the burnt pipelines, Dr Sarpong said materials were in stock to begin repairs and that an assessment would be made to know how long the repairs would take.

The MD assured the nation that the refinery was intact because workers took swift measures to prevent any unfortunate situation. Management, he said, had been holding crisis meetings since the MV Polaris, a Greek-registered fishing vessel, caught fire while under repairs at the shipyard. The vessel was completely burnt and some 17 people trapped in it were feared dead.

The ferocious fire spread to vital adjoining facilities like the VRA pumping house, TOR pumping house, VALCO conveyor belt as well as a cold store and a shipping company.

Prof. Mike Ocquaye, Energy Minister, told the Ghana News Agency in an exclusive interview on Friday that TOR had been insulated from the fire.

Prof. Ocquaye said there had to be a serious investigation as to how the disaster occurred.

He called on the public to remain calm as the matter was assessed and solutions were found.

He said the disaster had serious insurance implications hence the presence of representatives of the insurers of TOR to assess the situation critically.

According to reliable sources, the fire was caused by spillage of oil from the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) pipeline that had been leaking for the past one week.

Mr Stephen Quansah, a mechanic, told the GNA that he and his colleagues were working on the vessel in the morning when they heard an explosion.

The fire was ignited when fire coming from the repair works on the vessel came into contact with the spilled oil on the water. Fire Fighters from the Ghana National Fire Service, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority and TOR battled the fire for several hours.

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