It is horrendous to consider how Parliament could effectively scrutinize the recent six Petroleum Agreements (PAs) between five Nigerian oil companies (considered as nobody)and approves them in just two days.
The six Petroleum Agreements are in addition to 2 other PAs i.e. AMNI International; and CAMAC Energy which were approved by Parliament in March 2014.
The approval of the recent six new PAs will therefore bring to eight (8) PAs approved within 4 months, usually without effective scrutiny.
For the purpose of public records, the six (6) Petroleum Agreements are between the Republic of Ghana and six lead companies namely, Brittani-U (1), Heritage Oil (2), Sahara Energy Fields (1), UB Resources (1) and A-Z Petroleum (1).
Meanwhile, all these firms are Nigerian companies, most of them are minnows (nobody) with little experience in offshore exploration.
For some of them, their experience is limited to the operation of marginal fields, which is not what Ghana should be looking for at this stage of our oil industry.
The Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) has stated that Ghanaians must be asking the government why it is delaying the passing of the new Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Bill which has a better governance regime, whilst at the same time rushing many Petroleum Agreements to Parliament for approval.
Petroleum Agreements for the first time in Ghana’s history contains anti-corruption clause in the PAs that shun corruption especially through bribery or any inducement of public officials, politicians and political parties.
Unfortunately, this clause is only provided in four (4) out of the six (6) new PAs currently before Parliament.
In a statement copied THE PUNCH, the Centre said whilst they commend Government for the initiative, they wish to also call on the Government to strengthen Ghana’s anti-corruption agencies to identify, investigate and expose corruption in the emerging oil and gas industry.
‘Government must also adopt an open and competitive process in licensing oil blocks, make contract disclosure mandatory and establish a register for the disclosure of beneficial ownership information in all Pas,’ the statement posited.
ACEP strongly believes that government is rushing these petroleum contracts to Parliament to avoid the public scrutiny required in the new Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Billthrough open and competitive bidding particularly when the oil blocks in question are in known areas with considerably lower risks than unknown areas.
The statement signed by the Executive Director of ACEP, Dr. Mohammed Amin Adams said Government must demonstrate beyond the new anti-corruption clause in the PAs thatmeans well for Ghana’s oil wealth.
ACEP has demonstrated that they suspect fronting in some of the Petroleum Contracts.
According to them, this follows a strong potential violation of the local content regulations (LI2204), which provides a minimum equity of 5% for indigenous Ghanaian firms in every PA.
Two of the PAs do not meet this requirement, for example, in the Brittania-U’s PA, Hills Oil Marketing Company, the local indigenous Ghanaian firm, holds 5% in Brittania-U translating into 4% in the concession; whilst in UB Resources’ PA, the indigenous firm, Royal Gate, has 5% in UB Resources which translates into 4.35% in the concession.
The statement explained that BlueStar, a Ghanaian firm has not submitted any documents on its financial strength, Heritage Oil in this case guaranteed the performance obligations of BlueStar.
‘For this reason, we wish to call on Government to disclose the beneficial owners of all these companies, both foreign and local,’ the statement noted.
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