Business News of Sunday, 24 December 2017
As part of efforts to enhance the oil and gas sector of the economy, the Ministry of Energy has launched an Independent Oil and Gas Information Resource Centre (IOGRIC).
Ghana since its discovery of oil in 2007 has obtained some 3.6 billion dollars, however inadequate systems in place has left a majority of such revenue unaccounted for.
Speaking at the launch of the center, a Deputy Minister for Energy, Mohammed Amin Adam was of the view that the introduction of the center will enable stake holders hold government accountable for revenue generated from the country’s oil resources.
“We know that it is the constitutional right of the people of Ghana to have access to information, whether they find it useful or not it is a constitutional right, it therefore places a great responsibility on the resource center to have all these documents but not only for publication but most importantly to present them in a simplified manner to the public, this is a sure way there can be accountability from our public officials,” he said.
The IOGIRC is an independent institution under the Oil and Gas Capacity Building Project (OGCBP), with support from the World Bank and the Government of Ghana, established to operate as an interactive space for information on the oil and gas sector.
The Centre (http://oilandgasirc.org.gh/about-us/), which has been operating for the past two years, offers varied range of information on oil and gas sector, including regulations, oil and gas agreements, oil and gas companies, oil fields, government and non-government agencies and their roles, relevant academic institutions and training centers, sector statistics, industry analysis and current trends, forecasts, oil and gas revenue management, projects and research.
Dr. Amin Adam, also said one of the constraints in the oil sector was the lack of good quality research on oil and gas for law makers, civil society and the media.
He said good research was necessary to inform and influence policy and legislative debates and serve as an effective check and balance, system.
He noted that the establishment of the Centre was therefore, a reflection of government’s commitment to support relevant research for the public discourse on policies, laws and regulations.
“Building on the experience of other oil producing countries, the Centre will provide relevant information on the operation of the oil and gas sector to all interested parties and raise the bar on public scrutiny of the decisions public officials make, regarding the exploitation and use of our oil and gas resources,” he said.
“In addition, the Centre operates as an interactive space for information as well as keeping all stakeholders abreast with technical, strategic and commercial issues that affect the oil and gas industry.”
He said, to give true meaning to the objective of the Centre, the government would soon demonstrate its commitment to broadening the boundaries of the transparency and information disclosure by launching a Public Register of Petroleum Agreements, Permits and Authorisation, a requirement by Section 56 of the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act of 2016 (Act 919).
He explained that the Register would contain full-text Petroleum Agreements and other relevant documents of public interest.
“It is our expectation that the Register will not only complement the work of the Centre but more importantly, serve as important reference source for information,” he added.
The Deputy Minister said the OGCBP, had therefore, made the necessary investments in the nation’s oil industry, recognizing the power of information, for educating people, deepening understanding, and enhancing harmony among people; as well as enriching intellectual contribution to policy formulation.
“Government is therefore, convinced that the Resource Centre will be used to the optimal to justify this huge investment,” he said.
He urged the operators of the website to ensure that information placed on it were very reliable and from authentic sources.
Mr Alex Kyei, the Coordinator of the OGCBP, said IOGIRC is a knowledge hub, which is committed to promoting transparency and access to information on the oil and gas industry in Ghana.
He said “The Centre also aims at promoting transparency through educating the public and collaboration with institutions in the oil and gas industry to share knowledge and resources”.
Mr Kwame Jantuah, the Vice Chairman of Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), who chaired the function, urged the oil companies to work with the Government to ensure that the people of Ghana benefit from the oil revenue.
At the function, the IOGIRC Steering Committee, made up of representatives from seven stakeholder institutions such as the Tullow Ghana, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, Kosmos Energy, ENI Ghana, Petroleum Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and Ghana Oil and Gas Service Providers Association (GOSPA) was inaugurated