The Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) is facing a critical brain drain problem as key technical staff members are resigning to seek greener pastures in the Middle East.
As of last Friday, 14 key technical staff members, majority of whom had rendered invaluable services to the refinery for the past 15 years, had tendered their letters of resignation.
Majority of those who have resigned are said to be on their way to work for Qatar and Oman refineries in the Middle East.
They are said to be paying $2,600 to the least qualified staff member, while they pay between $5,000 and $8,000 (non-taxable) a month to a technical staff member.
The Public Affairs Manager of TOR, Mrs Aba Lokko, in an interview, said, “We have lost very key skilled and competent staff members and their departure poses a threat to the smooth operations of the refinery”.
The departed staff members were working at the Residual Fluidised Catalytic Cracking (RFCC) plant and the Utilities Unit of TOR.
She said although their sudden departure posed a great threat to the smooth operations of the refinery, short, medium and long term strategies would be instituted to address the problem.
The immediate and short term strategies would involve “linking up with SK Corporation of Korea, who were part of the installation of the plant, to send down some of their technical staff members to assist in our operations,” Mrs Lokko said.
To this end, 10 staff members of SK Corporation comprising technicians and engineers, were expected to arrive on Tuesday to help in the refinery's operations, as well as train more people to run the RFCC and other technical units.
“They are also expected to do a crash programme to train new staff who will be recruited,” Mrs Lokko said.
She explained that TOR had a maintenance and operations contract with SK Corporation, which was about to end, but had to be extended in view of the arising arising.
As part of the short term solution to the problem, she stated that there would be reshuffling of staff from other departments to augment operations of the plant while the medium term solution would involve recruiting others for training.
Mrs Lokko explained that the long term strategy would involve reviewing conditions of service to adopt pragmatic measures to retain the staff members.
She conceded that TOR could not match up with what was being currently offered by Qatar Refinery, which included sending down free air tickets to staff members who had resigned.
She said TOR had no other choice than to respect the decision of the staff members who had resigned, although their services were immensely needed.
The Public Affairs Manager said the management of TOR met with the staff last Friday to brief them on the developments at the refinery, as well as the plans being instituted to solve the problem.
She said the management appealed to the remaining staff members to stay and help in the refinery's operations in order to ensure a regular and uninterrupted supply of petroleum products in the country.
Meanwhile, the RFCC has been shut down for routine maintenance maintenance, which would take five days to complete.
Mrs Lokko gave the assurance that the shut-down would not affect the supply of petroleum products since “we have enough stock for the market for four weeks”.