The Paramount Chief of Esikadu Traditional Area, Nana Kobina Nketsia V, has entreated the government to avoid any partisanship approach in the utilisation of the country’s petroleum resources to ensure a holistic benefit to the entire citizenry.
He expressed surprise that the majority of the membership of the Petroleum Commission, which was supposed to be an independent body, to regulate activities of the petroleum sector, were appointed by the President.
He said although a number of bills had been initiated by the government to govern the petroleum sector, there was the need to place national interest above any personal or partisan interests.
Nana Kobina Nketsia made the comments when making a contribution at a national stakeholders’ forum on the Petroleum Exploration and Production Bill, organised by Friends of the Nation, an environmental non-governmental organisation, in Takoradi, in the Western Region.
The event provided a platform for participants to make inputs into the Petroleum Exploration and Production Bill, which is currently at the Attorney General’s Office and will be laid before Parliament for consideration when the House resumes.
It was on the theme:”Improving the Legal and Regulatory Framework in Maximising Benefits from our Petroleum Resources”.
The petroleum forum brought together representatives of civil society organisations, traditional authorities, experts in the petroleum sector, fishermen, fish mongers, metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies, legal practitioners and the media.
The Paramount Chief observed that the country’s numerous natural resources had not been utilised to benefit the entire citizenry over the years and entreated those in charge of the petroleum resources to make frantic efforts to ensure that it benefited all Ghanaians.
The Executive Director of Friends of the Nation, Mr. Donkris Mevuta, said the forum aimed at strengthening citizens’ participation in the governance of the petroleum resources to ensure transparent and accountable use of the oil and gas resources.
He noted that, although there had been fast improvement in petroleum infrastructure since the discovery and exploration of oil and gas, there had not been corresponding legal and regulatory framework to govern the sector.
He said the Petroleum Bill had come at an opportune time to ensure holistic governance of the petroleum resources and entreated all Ghanaians to avail themselves to make inputs into the drafted bill.
Dr. Mohammed Amin Adam, Executive Director of Africa Centre for Energy Policy, took participants through the weaknesses and gaps in the Petroleum Exploration and Production Act, Act 84 (PNDCL84).
He noted that the legislation had outlived its usefulness due to local and global socio-economic changes in the sector, hence the urgent need to review the PNDCL 84, to reflect realities in the petroleum industry.
The participants made a number of suggestions, including, the need for the drafters of the bill to consider infusing mandatory open disclosure of oil contracts and harmonising regulations with other institutions.
The suggestions also include the reduction in the discretionary powers of the Minister of Energy and Petroleum, the need for fisheries impact assessment to be conducted by oil companies and reviewing confidentiality clauses in the bill.