Ghana’s sole refinery, the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), is close to signing a joint venture agreement with PetroSaudi International to upgrade its domestic conversion of crude to oil, Ghanaian President John Mahama said in his state of the union address to parliament.

Ghana joined the ranks of Africa’s oil-producing countries in late 2010, when it began exporting crude from its offshore Jubilee field. However, the 45,000 barrels-a-day TOR plant has repeatedly shutdown over the last four years due to a lack of funds to procure crude.

In response to these issues, Mahama told parliament: “A joint venture agreement between TOR and PetroSaudi is being finalised to revamp the operations of our refinery. This will reduce the huge amount of foreign exchange spent on importing finished products.”

While the West African country is one of Africa’s newest crude exporters, the economic impact of oil production has been swift, resulting in a dramatic leap in GDP growth in 2011, and causing oil to develop into a major source of government revenue and foreign exchange.

Ghana stands as one of the world’s fastest growing economies, and crude output stands at around 100,000 barrels per day. Though this figure lags behind national targets, it is expected that a successful joint venture with PetroSaudi could well be the remedy that Ghana needs.