The Indeni Oil Refinery is being deliberately sabotaged by the importation of wrong crude oil to blackmail the Government, union officials have revealed.
“Indeni Refinery has suffered what we believe is sabotage and a blow to the operations of the company. As workers’ representatives, we have been compelled to call it sabotage because this is the second time that the refinery is receiving wrong crude within 24 months,” they have said.
The Indeni workers through their union, the Power Generation and Allied Workers Union of Zambia (POGAWUZ) have said it was difficult to explain the circumstances under which contaminated fuel was allowed for importation, adding that the company awarded the contract to procure fuel for Zambia should explain.
“We understood the 2013 incident as Human error, but this one leaves much to be desired. We wonder whether we need to learn the same lesson twice. It must be noted here that every refinery design has a specific range of crude it can process. It is our firm view that specifics being so important apart from pricing are agreed upon in procurement contracts,” POGAWUZ president Thomas Nyendwa said. He said the current crude oil was not anywhere near the parameters refineable by Indeni. “This is as a result of its values of organic chlorides, which are even higher than the 2013 crude. The resulting effects of this crude oil are: Expensive processing cost – the plant has to spend chemicals that normally last for up to five weeks in one day,” he said.
He said the plant would now experience corrosion of the process lines because of chemicals eating up the pipes, vessels, tanks and other machinery and would in the end reduce the life span of the refinery.
Mr. Nyendwa accused people vested with the responsibility of overseeing the acquisition of crude oil of conniving with suppliers for purposes of pocketing the mark up.
“We strongly believe that this particular crude is far much cheaper than the one they should have procured. There is a ploy to damage the plant to prove a point by some big mouthed, self-imposed experts who have repeatedly asserted that the plant is obsolete when in fact not,” he said. Mr. Nyendwa explained that there was a cartel in the procurement of fuel whose intentions were now well known as they were against Government installations such as Indeni which they wanted to bring down in order for the country to start buying finished products.
“Without caring about the people who depend on this Government installation, others want to create wealth for themselves by importing finished petroleum products. While importation is there currently, the volumes are restricted by indeni’s presence which they now want to eliminate. We can further speculate of this being an effort to black mail the Government. The exclusion of experts in the buying process. We don’t think if involved the experts at Indeni would have recommended such crude oil in the first place,” he said. He said there was need for government to clean up the entire system in order to stop the savage appetite for sabotage being experienced in the fuel industry.
“We recommend therefore that the authorities clean up the bad elements who have exhibited a savage appetite to sabotage. We stand together as workers to fight for the cause of our beloved company and country. We request for the support of all progressive Zambians to join the fight against economic sabotage,” he said. Mr. Nyendwa explained that Indeni Petroleum Refinery was a very strategic company whose relevance to the economy cannot be over emphasized and therefore it was shocking that the sabotage was treated with kids cloves.