‘We’re prepared to fight’

Region 10 Chairman issues ultimatum to gov’t over Ghanaian oil refinery proposal

Chairman of Region 10 Renis Morian, says he is giving government until Thursday to respond to proposals by a group of Ghanaian investors who want to build an oil refinery in Linden.

Morian, who met the investors at their Houston, Texas office, says that while he arranged and had been a part of a meeting with the team and Department of Energy (DoE) head Dr. Mark Bynoe, there has been no clear indication from the DoE on the way forward.

“We are waiting on government, we are giving them time to respond and once we don’t have a word we will have much to say on Thursday,” Morian told this newspaper.

The investor group includes Ghanaian businessman Quincy Sintim-Aboagye, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Lushann International Energy Ghana Limited, which operates in Ghana’s Saltpond Oil Field, and which has been named at the centre of scandals as one of the companies indebted to the now-collapsed UT Bank Ghana Limited.

Another member of the group is Alfred Fafali Adagbedu, who is CEO of the Ghanaian Seaweld Engineering Limited. Multiple online reports state that in 2009 he was sued by a former partner, based on allegations that he had failed to honour an agreement giving the man 40% of the company for  a deal he facilitated. That lawsuit saw a judge rule to have an independent financial company oversee the finances of the said company. It is unclear what happened to that case.

On November 15th, Morian facilitated a meeting with the group and regional stakeholders at the office of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC).  The Guyana Times reported that Morian informed that he had looked at the operations of the company and was “blown away” with what he had discovered.

In that report, Sintim-Aboagye was quoted as saying, “All the benefits will come to Linden. If the oil refinery comes… We plan to roll some money into a hotel so that when the high experts come here, they can spend some of the money here… We can also get into farming to create the low-end jobs.”

Morian had told attendees about the group’s investment proposal and how beneficial it would be for their community. “Bauxite is down. We’re looking for a consummate agency that could employ. Here is one who’s willing to bring their own funding , their own oil refinery… they would have established the kind of repertoire in terms of training that our government about three or four weeks ago travelled to Ghana seeking training for our local people here… I spoke with the President who’s very upbeat about it… We’re prepared to fight to see this rig in Region 10 for the people here…,” he said.

 

In the dark

On November 22nd, the Region 10 REO called a press conference, where he expressed disappointment at the meeting with Bynoe, saying that in the end, it saw the team leaving without word of interest from the Guyana government.

Following that meeting, he told Sunday Stabroek that he was concerned about the development of Linden and opined that the group was a legitimate investment team that wanted to help the community. He said that he did not like how the investor was treated by the DoE, since after the meeting between the two sides, no other word had been forthcoming.

“Like I said at the meeting, we are in the dark. Nobody called us to say anything. I had to leave the meeting and said they will do their talking. When I asked the man, he said he don’t know if they are serious…they did not tell him if they would call and they have not called; matter of fact, they didn’t tell him anything serious really,” he said.

“If it is that we have to wait for them then say we have to wait or something. We would understand that. We have not heard anything I am telling you, nothing,” he added.

Morian said that he is perplexed that the same group that he believes is being shunned by the DoE, had a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with Georgetown officials.

“This same group went to Georgetown and had an agreement signed. How is that?” he asked, even though he would not tell this newspaper what the MoU contained and with which Georgetown official the business was conducted.

Bynoe, when contacted, that while he did have a meeting with an overseas investor about Linden, he was bound by the

confidentiality of his office to not discuss investors’ names, companies or details of those meetings with the press or public.

He denied that his office could not be reached by anyone who wanted an update or any other matter, while reminding that this newspaper gets on to him even after work hours and calls are returned when not answered.

 

‘Not ordinary people’

When asked if he had conducted due diligence on the investors, Morian said he had. “Here you have doctors and engineers and business people. These are not ordinary people, so I don’t understand what is really happening. I want to see this region developed because for too long it has been forgotten,” he said.

“I am not looking at the politics, I am looking for my people. We want this refinery here. We want to have benefits from this oil,” he added.

Asked if he had any personal interests in the investment, he replied, “Absolutely none” and again stressed that he was “just looking out for Linden.”

But when asked this week about his visit to Houston, Morian became upset. “I notice Stabroek News is going back but I am going forward…I will not talk about that,” he said.

Told that his silence could lead the public to perceive that he has something to hide, he would only say, “I said I would speak again this Thursday.” Told that he will still be asked about the trip on Thursday, he said “I don’t mind, when that comes, I will deal with it,” before terminating the call.

Sintim-Aboagye’s investment group is not the first to express interest in establishing an oil refinery in Linden. Back in February of this year, local company GuyEnergy, said it plans to build a modular oil refinery in Region 10 at a cost of around US $100 million. CEO Thurane Doerga, had said that it would be completed “way before” ExxonMobil’s 2020 estimated production start date, but as at today’s date, there has been no word on any development.

The DoE has said that all oil and gas matters, which include the building of a refinery in any part of the country, will be thoroughly analyzed before decisions are made. Those decisions, Bynoe has said, will be in keeping with Guyana’s Green Agenda and for the maximum benefits of the citizenry.

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