As part of measures to ensure that bitumen, which is used for the construction of roads in the country, is of high quality and the supply is streamlined, the National Petroleum Authority has paid a working visit to the Societe Multinationale de Bitumes (SMB) refinery in Cote D’Ivoire.
Ghana imports its bitumen from SMB, which produces, stores and trades about 47 percent of the total bitumen consumed on the African continent.
Over the years, SMB has held strategic partnerships with Total International and Vivo Energy through the importation of bitumen to the Ghana market. It is currently in partnership with Ghana Oil Company (GOIL) to construct a 6,000 metric tonne bitumen processing plant in Tema.
Currently, the bitumen market is not regulated. To streamline the operations of bitumen marketers and to enable the NPA commence the process of regulating bitumen consumption, a committee was constituted in 2017.
The Chief Executive of NPA, Dr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, during the visit to SMB, said the draft licensing framework and operational guidelines for efficient regulation of the bitumen industry in Ghana had been developed.
He stated the visit was to experience at first-hand and understand the operations of the bitumen industry, from the refinery all the way to the utilization, as well as adopt best quality assurance practices to be implemented for use by bitumen facilities in Ghana.
The NPA Chief Executive expressed his appreciation to the newly appointed SMB Director General, Mrs. Josephine Marie Sidebe, and emphasized that “besides the learning experience, the visit in a long run would be beneficial to both countries in strengthening the business ties between the two organizations.”
Dr Abdul-Hamid also highlighted that the lessons from the visit would enable the downstream regulator to finalize all the existing draft frameworks and guidelines necessary for mainstreaming the bitumen industry in Ghana.
Mrs Sidebe assured Ghana of supplying the best quality of bitumen for the country’s road constructions, adding “SMB meets requirements of every country on the continent”.
“Unfortunately, most of the countries have different specifications. For Ghana, it’s about your requirements. If you require American standard, we will produce for you. So, we can produce both American and European specifications,” she added.