ACCRA, April 21 (Reuters) - Ghana plans to expand the capacity of its only oil refinery from 45,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 145,000 bpd in three years as the country moves towards commercial oil production, the plant’s director said on Monday.
Expansion of the state-owned Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) would cost $150 million-200 million and would be financed by syndicated international loans with the participation of some local banks, TOR’s Managing Director Kofi Kodua Sarpong told Reuters.
Plans to increase the capacity of the refinery in the West African nation have been given fresh impetus following major oil discoveries last year by independent Tullow Oil (TLW.L) in two deepwater Ghana blocks, Tano and West Cape Three Points.
“The oil discovery has heightened the motivation to begin the first phase (of expansion) now, in order to strategically position TOR ... to meet the processing needs of the emerging oil industry,” Sarpong said.
He said TOR’s management was in the process of securing the funds and would proceed with the engineering contract. Actual construction would start in early 2009 and be completed in a period of between 18 months and two years.
“The banks are ready to lend us the money,” he added.
Tullow believes the two deepwater offshore blocks hold well over 1 billion barrels of oil.
Ghana National Petroleum Corp (GNPC) has said it expects Tullow to start production by the first quarter of 2010 at the latest, with initial production of 60,000 barrels a day. Output was expected to rise within two years to between 200,000 and 250,000 barrels a day.
TOR currently refines crude oil into gasoline, diesel, liquefied petroleum gas, kerosene, aviation turbine kerosene (Jet A1), premix (marine fuel) and cracked fuels.
Sarpong said the refinery management hoped to eventually add a plant for processing bitumen.
Ghana’s annual domestic fuel consumption is about 2 million tonnes for all products combined.
The West African country, which has generated much of its electricity from hydroelectric plants, has suffered severe power shortages in recent years and is pressing Tullow to start production as quickly as possible. (For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: africa.reuters.com/) (Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; editing by Pascal Fletcher and Jim Marshall)