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Interview: George Mensah Okley Managing Director, BOST

Interview: George Mensah Okley Managing Director, BOST

The Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company Limited (BOST) was incorporated in December 1993 as a private limited liability company with the Ghanaian government as its sole shareholder.

Here, George Mensah Okley explains the company’s plans.

What is BOST’s mandate?

To develop a network of storage tanks, pipelines and other bulk transportation infrastructure throughout the country. We keep strategic reserve stocks
for Ghana and manage the ‘zonalization’ policy of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA).

What do you want to achieve for BOST as its new Managing Director?

I want to set up a world-class trading department and form a strategic partnership with GO Energy and the Ghana Oil Company to ensure a stable and long-term price outlook at the pump. We also want co-operation with the private sector. We want to leverage our current strength and
infrastructure to ensure the cost of doing business in the downstream will be as low as practicable.

What is your position on building strategic stocks?

BOST must build strategic reserve stocks to meet a minimum of six weeks of national consumption in the short and medium term, increasing to 12 weeks in the long term.

Due to the fact that petroleum products have a limited shelf life, BOST is required to dispose stored products as and when needed, and replenish the stocks to ensure their viability. This is the reason why the mandate of strategic stock-keeping to meet national demand over the stated period cannot be clearly separated from active trading in petroleum products.

How does the BOST network operate?

Finished petroleum products (gasoil and gasoline) enter the BOST network from either the Conventional Buoy Mooring (CBM) at Tema and/or from the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR). Petroleum products are transported between BOST’s coastal and regional depots using a combination of pipelines, river barges and Bulk Road Vehicles (BRVs). 

There is a twin 6” pipeline that connects TOR to Accra Plains Depot (APD). APD is also connected to the Mami Water Depot via another 63km 6” multiple products pipeline, which continues to the Akosombo Depot.

From the Akosombo Depot, petroleum products are loaded onto river barges and transported to Buipe via the Volta Lake. The Buipe
depot is connected to the Bolgatanga depot via a 261km 8” multiple
products pipeline.

What about the pipeline network?

BOST has about 354km of petroleum pipelines of varying sizes throughout the country. It has storage infrastructure located in six of Ghana’s 16 regions.

The largest depot is located at the Accra Plains, with a capacity of 210,500m3 for both gasoil and gasoline. Kumasi has the second-largest
depot, with a total capacity of 87,000m3 of gasoil, gasoline and kerosene.

What planned projects does BOST have?

BOST intends to construct 30,000MT capacity LPG storage facilities at four locations in Ghana: Tema, Takoradi, Kumasi and Buipe. This will provide BOST with about four weeks of national consumption in line with the BOST objective of providing up to 12 weeks of national consumption.

As part of the evolution of a proper operating structure, the BOST
depot upgrade project is planned as a full integration of systems, hardware and controls through depot automations, equipment upgrades and safety
enhancements across all six BOST terminals to deliver efficiency to depot operations, and improve the standard of operations and maintenance of BOST’s facilities. The project’s principal deliverable is the increase in flow rates by up to 70%.

The BOST depots in Accra, Kumasi, Bolgatanga, Buipe, Akosombo and Mami Water will be upgraded, where relevant, to accommodate the pipeline size increase to 4” in support of the planned throughput increase, as well as pipeline measurement and flow reporting. The upgrade also
includes Terminal Automation, Tank Gauging, Access Control, CCTV, and Fire and Gas. On completion, it is expected that there will be a 100% system and automation delivered, including Loading/Unloading throughput, plus pipeline and flow metering, Akosombo barge Loading/Unloading.

The complete automation of the terminals will ensure the online
real-time management and monitoring of product receipt, inventory
and dispatch of product through BRVs and barges. BOST is hoping for project financing and for partnerships to raise long-term capital to restructure. We are targeting pension funds. That is our long-term goal.

There is a grace period before that happens, so we are hoping for business and want to create infrastructure for all petroleum products that are used
in Ghana.

What new pipeline projects are under way?

As part of the expansion drive undertaken by BOST, a new 12” 70km pipeline is to be constructed within the TAPP corridor to connect APD to AKD. The total volume of the new pipeline is approximately 5m litres. The pipeline delivery rate from APD to AKD is 250m3/hr.

What about construction of barges and tugboats? 

Additional marine assets will be required by BOST in order to efficiently transport products from APD to Buipe Depot. These include fuel tank
barges and pusher boats that will transport products from Akosombo to Debre and Buipe.

There will be different barges for gasoline and gasoil. Each of the
proposed barges will have a capacity of 1.5m litres.

To ensure that products are moved expeditiously to meet the demand in the Sahelian markets (including Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger) there will be at least nine barges. There will be three pusher boats, each with an engine power rating of 2x750kW. There will be a Calm Buoy Mooring (CBM) system to support offshore loading. Each of the proposed barges will have a capacity of 1.5m litres.

Additional river barges and tugboats are required to enhance the petroleum transmission system of BOST to efficiently carry out its mandate. At the present pricing and related circumstances, it is economically and financially viable to invest in both facilities. Three more pusher boats and nine river barges are needed to meet the petroleum demand in the three northern regions of Ghana and export to other land-locked countries.

However, BOST is looking forward to putting back on the lake four barges with a combined capacity of 3m litres for fuel transportation to the Buipe Depot to serve the northern regions of Ghana and the Sahelian market by the end of the year.

What plans are there for the Debre transit depot and the Debre to Buipe pipeline?

BOST presently has a port facility at Debre, about 32km from Buipe in the Northern Region. During the dry season, when water levels are low and barge access to Buipe may be restricted, Debre is accessible by barges all year and the Debre depot is installed to receive diesel and gasoline from
the barges, and export to Buipe via a new pipeline.

The Debre Transit Depot will comprise of two 20,000m3 gasoline tanks and two 20,000m3 gasoil tanks. Additionally, a 16” 30km pipeline will be constructed from Debre Transit Depot to Mpaha Junction to connect the
existing Buipe to Bolgatanga pipeline.

How will you finance these projects?

Financing will include a private placement with private-sector participants for an ownership interest in the specific projects. There will also be a conversion of outstanding debts with other SOEs for functional assets to deepen operations. BOST will partner with existing service providers to raise capital for projects affecting their areas of activity.

The target is to use these methods to bring BOST up as a profitable SOE paying dividends to the government and generating appropriate
returns for the various investors.

The conventional model of borrowing at a cost to implement such projects and pay back through time is not the best way of project financing in an industry in the petroleum downstream. By bringing the various stakeholders onboard to raise the needed funding for projects, their lost benefits from the existing models get compensated through their gains in the new projects executed.

Will natural gas play a bigger part on the energy landscape of Ghana?

That is the reason they set up Ghana Gas. Natural gas is the transition
between the high-carbon-density fossil fuel to renewables. For now, it will play a key role in power generation.

Depending on the volumes that we have, we will export to neighbouring countries. That is why we have the West African Gas Pipeline. It should go beyond Takoradi to the Côte d’Ivoire. We have to bring our strategy to Senegal and monetise Senegalese natural gas in Ghana.

At BOST, however, we want to be focused. We do not want it to be a distraction. When we finish building our empire on the liquid side, then we can tackle diversification.

 

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Written by IC Publications

IC Publications is one of the world’s leading publishers focusing exclusively on African affairs.

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