Fishermen refuse to stay off oil rig

oil.jpgCompanies currently engaged in oil exploration off the coast of Cape
Three Points are to begin testing oil wells this weekend to enable the
experts to confirm the grade of the discovery.

The
test of the find, which has been described as the largest discovery in
deep water West Africa and potentially the largest single field
discovery in the region, would be undertaken by Kosmos Energy and its
partners in collaboration with the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation
(GNPC).

The testing will involve allowing the oil to flow to the surface for some measurements to be taken.

As
a result, the companies have warned that this activity could be very
dangerous to life since there would be flaring of a lot of gas at this
stage.

This was made known at a stakeholders meeting in Sekondi
Friday June 6, 2008, during which the companies took the opportunity to
warn fishermen who conducted their fishing activities near the oil rig
of the dangers they would face, if they went near the rig during the
exercise.

And to give weight to the caution of the experts,
the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) has warned fishermen to desist from
operating within three nautical miles of the drilling rig because that
could put their lives in danger.

"This operation is dangerous
as it would involve intense fire, fuel, oil, smoke, fumes etc. to
destabilise the mass of sea water in the discovery area," a statement
issued by the GAF and signed by the Director of Public Relations,
Colonel E. W. K. Nibo, said.

It warned that during the testing there could be explosions that may cause a major disaster involving the loss of lives.

It
further added that "any group of fishermen who ignore this final
warning does so at great risk to their lives and if arrested would face
prosecution."

According to the statement, although the GNPC
organised two stakeholders’ meetings with the Western Naval Command,
the Ministry of Fisheries, the Chief Fisherman and fishermen from the
Western Region to discuss the disruptive effects of fishing around the
drilling rig, some fishermen continued to interfere with the
exploration activities.

"As of Friday, May 23, 2008, the
fishermen were still tying their canoes to the anchor lines of the
drilling vessel. The Navy in its recent patrol, has also retrieved
fishing gear around the rig," the statement said.

It said that
was an indication that the fishermen continued to interfere with
petroleum exploration activities around Cape Three Points.
At
yesterday’s meeting the Lead Geophysicist of the Ghana National
Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Mr Richard Addo Darko, said the fishermen
were still going near the oil rig in spite of the continuous education
that tying the ropes of their canoes to the anchor of the oil rig was
very dangerous.

According to Mr Darko, most of these fishermen were believed to have come from Dixcove, Axim, Sekondi and Shama.

“We have also sighted other canoes from the coastal towns of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire ", he said.

He
said the GNPC had been doing community education from Half Assini to
all the coastal towns but some of the fishermen were still
recalcitrant.

The Deputy Western Regional Minister, Mr Kwasi
Blay, reiterated the urgent need for the fishermen to stay out of where
the oil rig had been located since their activities were hampering the
operations of the companies.

He urged the district assemblies
along the cost to replicate the stakeholders meeting at the local level
to help curb the activities of the fishermen near the rig.

The
Officer Commanding the Western Naval Command, Commodore Frank Daley,
noted that the fishermen were showing gross indiscipline in going near
the oil rig after several warnings.

Source: Daily Graphic