CSOs urge government to design strategic policy options for natural gas
Government has been called upon to frequently engage all stakeholders in the oil and gas sector to update them on policies and programmes being set out to man the sector for effective management.
Civil Society Organisations (CSO) who made the call on Thursday said there was the need for government to design strategic policy options for natural gas development in the country as well as introduce fiscal incentives to attract investments to the development of gas fields.
The forum, organized by Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) with the support from Star Ghana, was to engage stakeholders to discuss a policy paper on Ghana’s gas industry to aid the designing of such a policy by Government.
Stakeholders including: CSOs, Women Groups, People with Disability, Youth Groups, and Policy makers attended the forum which was held on the theme; “Consolidating Stakeholders Perspectives”.
Mr John Peter Amewu, Research Fellow at ACEP, explained that the paper on policy options for gas development in Ghana was developed to support the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, for the development of a National Gas Policy which should have been in place long before Ghana started developing her gas infrastructure.
He said as a civil society group, ACEP wants to ensure that the views of many Ghanaians were reflected in the Policy that would largely have to address issues on domestic infrastructure for domestic gas market including gas gathering, gas processing, transportation and distribution.
He said though ACEP had already submitted its suggestions to the framers of the Policy, it intended to engage other stakeholders to enable quality discourse on the gas sector.
Mr Amewu said issues suggested included the development of an appropriate gas pricing policy to increase sales on the domestic market rather than for export and to encourage private sector investments in gas development
Under regulatory options for Ghana, ACEP called for a competition to be deepened in gas exploration by introducing open and competitive bidding process for concession rights.
Mr Kwesi Twum Addo, Deputy Director of Petroleum, Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, said Government had already embarked on various programmes and initiatives to address the needs of Ghanaians concerning the gas sector.
He mentioned the initiative of distributing gas cylinders and cookers free of charge to rural areas as one of Government’s interventions in ensuring that most rural folks switch to the use of gas for domestic uses.
He said the three northern regions would be the initial beneficiaries of the cylinder distribution which would be launched in about two week’s time.
He said a consultant would be assigned by December to work on the National Gas master plan that would adequately address issues of the entire gas sector right from developing infrastructure to its final distribution stage.
Mr Addo said it is the intention of Government to allow only Ghanaians to work in the gas industry within a 10 year period before it would open the market up to others to join.
Mr Robert Yeboah, Officer in charge of Gas Regulation, Energy Commission, said his outfit in 2007 started to develop the national gas infrastructure plan and the national gas utilization options for the Country long before oil and gas was were discovered.
He said the notion that government and its agencies were doing little or no work at all for the sector was not accurate therefore people should be rest assured that a lot was being done for the well being of all.