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Turf War Erupts as Energy Minister and GRA Clash Over SML Resumption Directive

GRA Boss and Energy Minister take conflicting stance on SML role in the downstream petroleum sector revenue monitoring role.

A rift has emerged among key institutions in Ghana’s petroleum sector concerning the role of Strategic Mobilisation Ltd (SML). The disagreement surfaced when the new Commissioner General of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Julie Essiam, directed the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD) to “cooperate to ensure a successful resumption of the monitoring exercise.”

This directive, however, clashes with another directive from Energy Minister Dr. Mathew Opoku-Prempeh, urging the BDCs to adhere to an existing arrangement.

In a letter dated June 20 and intercepted by The Accra Times, Dr. Opoku-Prempeh informed the GRA and other stakeholders, including CBOD, that the Ghana Standards Authority, in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Trade and Industry, and other relevant entities, has developed new standards for measurement in the oil and gas sector.

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These standards, based on the Singaporean model and utilising the Coriolis mass flow metering system, have been declared operational and mandatory by the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The Energy Minister emphasised that all entities performing revenue assurance measurements in the oil and gas sector must comply with these new standards.

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“We wish to indicate that all persons and entities undertaking measurements for purposes of revenue assurances in the oil and gas sector are expected to do so in accordance with the new standards”, Dr.Opoku-Prempeh stated in his letter to the GRA.

CBOD Chief Executive Dr. Patrick Ofori expressed his confusion in an interview with Citi FM, stating that it is unclear which directive to follow regarding revenue assurance. He acknowledged that the role supposedly assigned to SML is already being performed by government agencies and sought clarification on what additional functions SML would provide.

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The GRA Commissioner General, in a letter dated June 12, instructed SML to resume its work, despite public criticism that the transaction was inappropriate and a waste of taxpayer money. She cited Presidential Directives on the KPMG report as the basis for recalling SML.

SML was initially contracted to prevent revenue loss in the downstream petroleum sector and was later tasked with extending its services to the upstream sector. However, an investigative report by The Fourth Estate, led by Manasseh Awuni, revealed that SML was being compensated for no work done.

The public outcry prompted President Akufo-Addo to commission KPMG to audit SML’s services.

The KPMG audit uncovered some irregularities but noted that SML provided some service in the downstream sector, with little evidence of work in the upstream sector.

Based on these findings, President Akufo-Addo, who was initially reluctant to release the KPMG report, decided that SML should continue its services in the downstream sector, a decision that displeased many civil society groups.

The conflicting directives from the GRA and the Energy Minister have created confusion among operators in the downstream sector, leaving them uncertain about which directive to follow.

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