Energy think tank, Institute for Energy Security (IES), says a recent explosion at the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) is a harbinger for challenges in the energy sector.

IES also says its observation of the refinery suggests that non-adherence to safety protocol and standard operating procedures, lack of adequate supervision, inexperience operating and production management personnel are among the factors that caused the incident.

A furnace at the Crude Distillation Unit (CDU) atTOR exploded on Thursday, forcing the management of the refinery to shut down the unit.

The furnace was commissioned on December 2, 2016, as part of a €5 million expansion project to increase capacity.

However, in a release Friday, IES said unless an investigation is launched into the cause of the explosion, the refinery may be plagued once again by technical, operational and financial challenges that shut it down for close to two years.

“The IES wish to call on the management of TOR, the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), the Ministry of Energy and the government; as a matter of urgency launch an investigation into the incident to unravel the cause of blow-up, and take steps to restore capacity while preserving the remaining production capacity.

“Anything short of these could jeopardise the country’s fuel security, threaten jobs, push back the gains made so far by TOR, turn the refinery to a storage terminal again, and impact negativity on the country’s socio-economic growth,” said the release signed by Richmond Rockson, IES Principal Research Analyst.

Until the explosion, Tema Oil Refinery had the capacity to supply approximately 61% of the country’s fuel demand.

This was made possible after the completion of installation of the new furnace to replace the old furnace 01-F61 which broke down in 2013 and as a result forced the Crude Distillation Unit (CDU) plant to drop to 28,000 barrels per stream day from a designed capacity of 45,000 barrels per stream day.

The new furnace was commissioned mid-December 2016 and coincided with TOR’s receipt of first indigenous crude oil from the Tweneboa-Enyera-Ntomme (TEN) field.