From 2017, Ghana’s petroleum sector will inch closer to its next phase of development after seven years of active production in 10 years of oil discovery. Within that period, the country is expected to ramp up oil production to between 180,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd) and 200,000 bopd, from a handful of about 100,000 bopd currently produced.
With it will come increased gas production, majority of which will come from the Sankofa-Gye Nyame Field, which is operated by the Italian oil giant, ENI.
Inflows from Sankofa-Gye Nyame should complement similar ones from the Tweneboa-Enyera-Ntomme (TEN) fields, which started production in August, this year, with a daily output of 23,000 bopd.
Together with inflows from the Jubilee Fields, the country can be assured of increased revenue from the ‘black gold’.
With oil prices stabilising from a record low of US$30 per barrel in January, this year, to US$47 per barrel in the last week of November, either President Mahama or Nana Akuffo-Addo will have an easier task mobilising resources from the petroleum sector to finance the budget and support infrastructural development.
With election due for tomorrow, the two major political parties, the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and its contender, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), have, since January been telling Ghanaians why they stand the best chance of managing the economy. Among those policy proposals are their plans for the petroleum sector.
For the ruling NDC, a win would ensure the continuation of existing oil revenue management policies and the introduction of some new ones with emphases on gas sector initiatives and investments to boost oil production.
For the NPP, however, a win would give the party the chance to reverse what their manifesto described as “an unrestrained move towards what is popularly called the oil curse” by the Mahama-led NDC government.
This it seeks to achieve through the amendment of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (Act 815), closer collaboration with the private sector to invest in the sector and sustained exploration for new oil fields.
In spite of the differences in policy proposals, the two parties concur on a number of issues in the petroleum sector.
One of them is the issue of transparency and accountability. The issue featured prominently in the manifestos of both parties, with the admission that shady deals were disingenuous to the growth of the industry.
They also emphasised the need to be more accountable to the citizens on how oil revenues were utilised.
As the party in power, the NDC has already put in place the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (Act 815), which stipulates how oil revenues should be allocated.
The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), a creation of Act 815, was also established in 2011 to have oversight responsibility over the management of the revenue inflows from oil. PIAC uses its annual reports to inform citizens about what the revenues have been used for.
Building on this, the NDC in its manifesto said it would ride on the gains of existing transparency initiatives as well as pursue new initiatives that would enhance accountability and transparency in oil and gas resource governance.
An NPP government, on the other hand, would commit to a transparent, accountable and efficient management of the country’s petroleum resources for the benefit of all Ghanaians.
“In pursuant of this, the NPP will improve transparency in the management of our oil and gas resources. Our commitment to passing the Right to Information Bill will further enhance transparency in the oil and gas sector,” the party’s manifesto states.
Implementing the policies
As a country that is prided as having nice policies but lacking the wherewithal to implement them, one should be skeptical when looking at the proposals of the two parties on the oil sector.
The Head of Policy at the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Dr Ishmael Ackah, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS on November 22 that the commitment to transparency over the years was good but called for increased accountability.
He said the focus over the years had been on transparency which involved making the information available.
“Transparency promises in the manifestos are good steps. But they should go beyond these to address the issue of accountability.”
“For example, there should be measures to address conflict of interest issues in the oil and gas sector, prudent exercise of discretionary powers and holding public officers accountable for disregarding the provisions of the law,” he said.
A citizen, Mr Felix Baidoo, who spoke to the GRAPHIC BUSINESS said while it was commendable that both parties captured issues relevant to the industry, it was important for them to develop the political will needed to implement those policies.
“I believe we need the political will and strong institutions to manage issues relating to the industry. I believe if the spirit behind what is encapsulated in the various manifestos by the two parties is pursued and not taken as cheap political talk, and then it will ensure a win-win situation for the oil sector and Ghanaians,” he said.