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CSO fingers Sipa-Yankey in a $40 million scandal

According to the group, Sinopec International Petroleum Services Corporation (SIPSC); a subsidiary of the Sinopec Group, which is constructing the gas processing plant at Atuabo in the Western region, has overpriced the project while GNGC remains indifferent. 

"The SIPSC is delivering a processing plant that is costing $40 million more than another plant which is considered superior by virtue of having five additional features including specifications that are favourable to the Volta River Authority (VRA)," Dr. Steve Manteaw, chairman of the group, stated at a press conference in Accra. 

He said "SIPSC has overpriced the materials for both the power plant and pipes by building hidden costs purportedly occasioned by an arrangement with SIPSC's special purpose subsidiary offshore firm called SAF Petroleum Investments (FZE), registered in Dubai. 

"Under the arrangement, SAF will make the initial procurement and resell the items to SIPSC. Meanwhile, the same person - Ms Yang Hua serves as Project Director for both SIPSC and SAF." 

The gas project would cover the processing of gas from the Jubilee Oilfield into clean fuels and feedstock for the domestic and export markets while promoting the development of the country's petrochemical industries to eliminate the flaring of gas. 

A visit by CITY & BUSINESS GUIDE to Atuabo recently showed that pipes were being laid from the processing plant to the Takoradi Thermal Plant at Aboadze to meet the December deadline for the commencement of the first phase of the project. 

Dr. Manteaw stated that attempts by the Petroleum Commission and the Ministry of Energy to obtain details of the transactions entered into by GNGC and Sinopec were thwarted by its Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Sipa- Yankey. 

He said his outfit called tor investigations "because of the huge costs being recorded relative to the gas project and their ramifications for gas pricing when the project is completed. 

"We believe that by the singular act of investigating these allegations of fraud and impropriety at Ghana Gas, the President will be sending a strong signal to the skeptics that his government serious about fighting corruption," Dr. Manteaw emphasised. 

The group is also calling on Parliament to take immediate steps to call for the GNGC-SINOPEC deal to be laid before it for debate and possible ratification in order to streamline GNGC's activities. 

It appealed to authorities to restructure GNGC as a subsidiary of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) under the Ministry of Energy's oversight. 

"This is important not only for tapping into GNPC's technical expertise and years of experience but also for enhancing the corporate profile and industry leverage of GNPC. Again, even though the GNGC has been incorporated, its mandate is not clear as the GNPC by law and by the Jubilee contractual arrangements owns the gas reserves with the international partners, and is expected to develop and transport gas to onshore facilities." 

Reacting to the statement, Kwesi Botchwey, Board Chairman of GNGC, said every act of procurement by the GNGC had been done in strict accordance with the country's procurement laws and in compliance with the company's own internal regulations regarding the thresholds for board approval, as it pertains in all companies in both the public and private sector. 

"The allegations of impropriety in procurement practices, and the talk of so-called "transfer pricing" by the project contractor Sinopec are allegations that the board of Ghana Gas has thoroughly dis¬cussed and found to be without merit or substance." 

Dr Botchwey continued: "I am aware that there are some who would have preferred to have one company exercise dominion over the entire oil and gas industry from upstream, midstream and down-stream and preferably be responsible also for regulating the entire industry." 

According to him, "Dr. Manteaw of the Civil Society Platform sounds very much like the hireling and advocate of these vested interests. But if per chance I am wrong and Dr. Manteaw's group is truly interested in constructive debate, Ghana Gas will be more than happy to debate them publicly." 

He indicated that Ghana Gas was studying the group's statement and would issue a more detailed response if need be. Daily Guide

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