New oil exploration law before Cabinet

Cabinet has started looking into a draft bill that will govern oil exploration and production (E&P) activities in the country.

The bill is an enhancement of the existing one, PNDC Law 84, which currently regulates all activities on the E&P of oil and petroleum-related products in the country.

The Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, which is sponsoring the law, is optimistic that cabinet will conclude its review soon for the bill to be forwarded to Parliament for consideration and passage into law.

“We hope it will be passed before the end of the year,” the Director of Finance and Administration at the ministry, Mr Solomon Asoalla, said in an interview shortly after he had presented a paper on ‘Working towards sustainable energy’ at an advocacy forum on the 2013 budget in Accra.

The two-day forum was organised by the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ), a grouping of financial and economic reporters, with support from Star Ghana, a multi-donor support fund with interest in development issues.

The forum brought together officials from key ministries, the private sector, civil society and the media to discuss issues in the 2013 budget about five months after it was presented to Parliament.

Speaking on what the Energy and Petroleum Ministry was doing to protect Ghana’s newly discovered oil resource, Mr Asoalla said his outfit had realised that the current law, which was passed in 1984, had outlived its usefulness and needed to be revised or, at best, replaced with a new one.

“We currently don’t have a proper law to regulate the E&P of our oil and if we don’t act quickly, we will virtually be selling off our oil. We think that won’t be good for us,” the director of finance and administration at the Energy and Petroleum ministry said.

The country discovered oil in commercial activities in 2007 and started its production at the Jubilee Field late 2010.

Mr Asoalla said since then, 23 new discoveries had been made, with growing interest of international oil E&P companies in the country’s oilfields.

“At the time our current E&P law was passed, we didn’t have oil. But now we have oil and are even producing. So, there is the need to get a new law that will take all these into consideration such that when an investor comes in, he doesn’t take advantage of the obsolete law to outwit the country,” Mr Asoalla said.

Although he declined to go into details of the proposed law, the ministry’s director of finance said “the things in it are very good but of course it’s being reviewed and things can be added or taken out. We hope that what will come out will be very strong to regulate the sector.”

On production volumes at the Jubilee Field, Mr Asoalla said daily output had risen from about 60,000 barrels of oil per day in the beginning of the year to the current 100,000.

“We are hopeful it will hit the target of 120,000 barrels by the close of the year,” he added.

Out of the 69.64 million barrels of oil drilled at the field from December 2010 to March, this year, Mr Asoalla said the Ghana Group, comprising the Government of Ghana (GoG) and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), got  12.84 million barrels as its share.

By Maxwell Adombila Akalaare/Daily Graphic/Ghana

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