The Chief Executive Officer of Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD) in the Republic of Ghana, Senyo Hosi, has underscored the need for petroleum downstream regulators in the West African sub-region to collaborate and institute mechanisms to deal with fuel smuggling and other illicit activities in the downstream sector.
In his view, although Ghana’s National Petroleum Authority, headed by Alhassan Tampuli, in collaboration with other relevant stakeholders, is doing its best to address the issue, smugglers keep doing it because there is no common platform to allow each country to monitor to ascertain whether BRVs that are marked for export actually get to their destination with the same quantity or not.
Contributing to a panel discussion on the topic: ‘Illicit activities, fuel fraud and supply chain security in West African sub-region’, Mr Hosi shared his views on what the regulators in the sub-region can do to stem fuel fraud.
“We should be looking at how, for instance, if the thing is supposed to go to Mali, the Mali people should be able to see. You don’t need to remove the tracker out at the border. If we have a proper regional collaboration and, then, this becomes a standard or a harmonized exporting process across the region, anybody who wants to move a truck should be able to have that equipment that is traceable, trackable and is reachable with all the other things…the volume and pressure monitoring and all that across. If you want to be a BRV tracker, you should have that as part of the requirement.
“When you set off in Benin, anybody within the region, all the regulators, should be able to see, other than that, all you have to do is to pretend to have crossed and do au-turn. So, if we have to look at proper regional collaboration, we should deal with this problem,” he suggested.
Assistant Commissioner in-charge of Upstream Petroleum at the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Mr Benjamin Graham, noted that illegal fuel trade is denying the government of revenue, stressing that because each country is doing things differently, criminals are taking advantage of the situation.
Mr Graham, who described the situation as worrying, suggested that there should be a collaboration between customs at the sub-regional level.
“There should be customs to customs cooperation so that before any product leaves Nigeria or Togo, for instance, the information should be passed on to Customs. So, we expect that if you have lost 50 metric tonnes of diesel, it means that you’re going to account for the 50 metric tonnes. But if you go and account for 30 metric tonnes, it means that the 20 metric tonnes has been stolen for someone’s private gains. However, if information is sent to NPA, Customs or other relevant agency, then we can all monitor the vessel or BRV carrying the product,” suggested.
He further suggested the use of drones to monitor fuel pipelines to ward off criminals engaging in bunkering and siphoning of fuel in the sub-region.