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Ghana in row with Barge Energy in The Hague

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The country’s hope of using gas from the commercial production of oil to generate energy is under threat as a result of a legal dispute between the government and Balkan Energy, operators of the Osagyefo Barge at Effasu in the Western Region.

The uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the case, which is now pending at the Court of Arbitration at The Hague, The Netherlands, has prompted Balkan Energy to lay off a large number of staff working on the Osagyefo Barge.

The case arose as a result of Balkan Energy’s insistence on auditing the country’s entire power lines before firing the power barge and full details of the facility’s component parts, moves which have been opposed by the government.

Explaining the issues which the government and Balkan Energy have presented for abitration at The Hague, a Deputy Minister of Energy, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini said the government had also demanded to know whether or not the barge was ready to generate power.

He said this request was turned down by the Balkan Energy compelling the two bodies to send the issues for abitration at the Hague.

Alhaji Fuseini said Balkan Energy turned down the government’s request on the grounds  that Ghana was not ready to distribute the power that would be produced from the barge.

He said Balkan Energy attributed this to the unsuccessful demand it made for an audit of the country’s power lines before firing the facility.

Alhaji Fuseini maintained that government had already set the lines to receive power from the barge and that there was no need to audit them before firing the facility.

He would not delve into further details but a source at the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) said the case was likely to affect efforts by the GNPC to deliver gas to the barge for power generation.

It said the prime focus of the corporation was to first feed the barge and later work to lay pipelines to transport the rest of the gas to the Aboadze Thermal Plant in the Shama District.

“At the moment, the Osagyefo Barge at Effasu has its doors shut and many of the staff laid off, with only a few at post. The project has stalled, pending the resolution of the case in The Hague,” it indicated.

The source said the GNPC had initiated moves to engage the Ministry of Energy, the Volta River Authority (VRA), as well as independent power producers (IPPs) in discussions to work out the possibility of deploying power plants to the Bonyere area to receive and utilise gas, which will be a by-product from the commercial production of oil.

Meanwhile, in a presentation at a stakeholders’ forum in Takoradi on Wednesday, the Senior Geologist of the GNPC, Mr Michael Aryeetey, said if the legal and technical issues associated with the Osagyefo Barge were not addressed in a timely manner, the problem would affect the GNPC’s ability to meet its objectives.

“The issues with the Osagyefo Power Plants have made the ‘First Gas at First Oil’ objective difficult to achieve,” he said.

Mr Aryeetey expressed the hope that there would be a positive response from the IPPs to fast-track their plans to locate their power plants near the gas processing plant at Bonyere for the utilisation of gas.

Source: Daily Graphic

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