It has been confirmed that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana National Gas Company (GNGC), was sidestepped in the US$2 billion deal between the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and the Genser Energy Ghana Limited.
The Herald’s findings, had established that Dr Ben K. D. Asante, had nothing to do with the transaction which is leading to the country lose hundreds of millions of Ghana cedis by GNPC buying gas at US$7.9/ mmbtu and selling it to Genser US$2.79/mmbtu leaving Ghanaian electricity consumers to pay more for power.
Appearing before Parliament’s Select Committee on Mines and Energy on Monday, the Ghana boss told the Members of Parliament on the Committee chaired by Samuel Atta Akyea that he had rejected Genser’s demand to have the gas sold away from the market rate insisting that when Genser was taking the gas from his outfit, it paid market rate.
Insiders told The Herald that Dr Ben Asante, submitted documents on Genser’s dealings with Ghana Gas to the Committee until it left for GNPC’s gas for the discounted gas being sold to the mines including Gold Fields Ghana at Tarkwa in the Western Region. The Herald, has obtained the two documents for perusal.
The Ghana Gas’ appearance was to respond to some questions on the transaction. The Herald is informed that Mr Atta Akyea is very determined to get to the matter. The MPs, have already visited the mine sites to see Genser’s men in operation.
The Ghana Gas boss’ innocence had further been established by The Herald in a couple publications recently done on the deal, but this has been reinforced by a rejoinder issued by the Head of Corporate Affairs of Ghana Gas, Ernest Owusu-Bempah, in reaction to a case of mistaken identity.
The Herald in its last Monday edition, had confused Dr Nii Darko Kobina Asante of the Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) who was at the Energy Commission as Director of Technical Regulations with Dr Benjamin K. D. Asante of Ghana Gas as the author of a letter dated 17th February 2019.
The Herald in its report headline “Ghana Gas Boss’ 4-Year Old Letter Exposes US$2 Billion GNPC-Genser Loot” had said a February 2019 letter has emerged from the Energy Commission showing it was against the US$2 billion Genser Energy Ghana Limited “sweetheart deal” in which GNPC buys gas at US$7.9/ mmbtu but sells it to Genser US$2.79/mmbtu.
Dr Nii Darko Kobina Asante, who currently works with the PURC had replied to a letter from Dr Benjamin K. D. Asante of Ghana Gas rejected Genser’s demand for a special treatment.
Dr Nii Darko Kobina Asante’s letter against Genser, had referenced one dated January 19, 2019 from Dr Benjamin K. D. Asante, who has been Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Gas since 2017 at the inception of the Akufo-Addo government. The Herald is informed that the proposal for the discounted rate to Genser, first came before the Ghana Gas boss but he, just like Energy Commission, turned it down forcing Genser to rush before GNPC for it.
Dr Nii Darko Kobina Asante’s letter had argued that “whilst, there has been some discussions about providing some strategic gas consumers with a discounted price, we are not aware of any decision having been taken on the subject. Particularly, to the best of our knowledge, no entities have been designated as “strategic”, no discounted price determined, and no mechanism for financing the discount has been determined. In the light of the above, we are unable to provide or suggest a waiver for Genser or any other entity from paying the WACOG”.
But a year after the Energy Commission and Ghana Gas rejection of the discount arrangement for Genser, GNPC under the management of Kofi Kodua Sarpong (KK Sarpong) “stepped into the fray with the $2.79 (per MMBTU) price deal, obviously at a steep discount from the regulated price then of $6.50”. It was later beaten further to US$1.68mmbtu/.
Although this paper corrected the case of mistaken identity in its Wednesday edition, same day Ghana Gas issued a statement through its Head of Corporate Affairs, Ernest Owusu-Bempah, demanding “a full retraction and an unqualified apology from the Herald Newspaper”.
The statement said “It has come to the attention of Ghana National Gas Company (“GNGC”) of publications in the Herald Newspaper with the above headline making rounds, and we wish to categorically state that; The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GNGC, Dr. Ben K. D. Asante never served as the Director of Technical Regulations at the Energy Commission, and neither did he sign the aforementioned letter dated 17th February 2019 as alleged by the Herald Newspaper.
“It must be noted that Dr. Ben K.D. Asante was appointed as the CEO of Ghana National Gas Company Limited in April 2017, and he has remained at this position till date. The publication in the Herald Newspaper linking Dr. Ben K.D. Asante to The Energy Commission is a deliberate matter of wrongful and unfounded claims.”
The content of the 17th February 2019 letter is sequel to denials from insiders on the government’s Economic Management Team (EMT) led by Vice-President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumua that a directive was given in 2020, to stop Ghana Gas from selling gas to power companies.
Ex-Energy Minister, John Peter Amewu and Dr KK Sarpong, had exchanged letters in which they cited an EMT directive. But The Herald’s sources on the EMT, insist the EMT has not given any directive for gas to be sold to Genser or any other company below US$7.9/ mmbtu.
This paper learnt that sometime on April 2, 2019, the Energy Ministry and the Committee on Review of Gas Market Pricing, made a presentation to EMT and proposed a gas price of US$5.61mmbtu, to reflect a reduction of US$1.68mmbtu on the PURC 2018 gas price of US$7.29mmbtu to Independent Power Producers (IPPs) in order to mitigate the effect of gas prices on electricity tariffs.
But at the said meeting, no company by name Genser, was mentioned and no decision was issued. It has been revealed that the meeting and presentation was purely an update presentation to EMT on how far the Ministry and Committee were exploring ways to reduce electricity tariffs by means of reducing the cost of gas prices.
Insiders continue to demand proof from John Peter Amewu who is currently the Minister of Railway Development and Dr KK Sarpong, that the EMT sanctioned the discounted rate to Genser as claimed.
The Volta River Authority (VRA) and others were buying the same gas for US$7.9/ mmbtu but Genser continued to pay at $2.79 or, even worse, prospectively at $1.72..
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