Mr Boakye Kyeremanteng Agyarko, the Minister of Energy, has called on the Petroleum Commission to facilitate the development of upstream petroleum regulations in its bid to ensure compliance of national laws and agreements relating to petroleum activities.
The upstream sector refers to the effective management of the oil and gas resources as well as accelerating exploitation of hydrocarbon resources.
Mr Agyarko noted that since the promulgation of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Law in 1983, no upstream petroleum regulations had been developed and that was creating impediments in the Commission’s mandate.
“I, therefore, challenge the Board to build a highly technical human resource base that will ensure compliance with the applicable laws and standards in the upstream industry.
“Take steps to implement the new regime for allocating petroleum rights, finalise regulations on competitive public tender process and develop modalities for the management of the Local Content Fund that would provide resources for citizens and indigenous companies engaged in the petroleum activities,” the Sector Minister said.
Mr Agyarko was speaking at the inauguration of a seven-member board of the Petroleum Commission at the Ministry on Thursday.
He said the situation pertaining to upstream petroleum regulation was, however, being improved as the Commission and the Ministry had facilitated the passage of the Exploration and Production Law, 2016 (Act 919) and its regulations.
Currently the Commission is working to lay before Parliament the Data Management Regulation, Health and Safety Regulations by December, this year, and ensure their passage into law.
The Minister expressed unhappiness with legislations that were saddled with conflicting mandates of most institutions and that it was frustrating industry players and stifling foreign direct investment in the Energy sector.
According to him, the memo would shortly be forwarded to Cabinet by the Ministry for discussion.
Mr Agyarko decried minimal budgetary support to the Commission, noting that “Budgetary allocation for the upstream petroleum regulator is key to the development of upstream petroleum industry in the country.
“In the light of disruptions arising from budgetary allocation and recent challenges being encountered from the capping of Internally Generated Funds of the Commission by the Ministry of Finance, it is imperative that the Board works with management to wean off the Commission from government subvention.”
He challenged the Board to restructure all capacity building programmes into one that would be called “Accelerated Oil Capacity Development Programme (AOCD)”
The OACD, a manifesto promise, would serve as a blue print for increasing Ghanaian participation in the oil and gas industry, he said.
Mr Agyarko announced that the Central Tender Board had given approval for the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation to go ahead with the planned seismic programme in the Volta Basin.
He appealed to the Board Members to promote the implementation of the Local Content and Participation Act (LI 2204) as well as develop a public register of petroleum contacts and ensure that those contacts were published as prescribed by law.
The Board Chairman, Mr Stephen Sekyere Abankwah, the Managing Director of Prudential Bank Limited, on behalf of the members, pledged to live up to expectation.
He said the Board would ensure the quick implementation of policy decisions to achieve effective regulation and optimal development of the upstream petroleum sector for the benefit of all Ghanaians.
Mr Abankwah encouraged companies who have been allocated with oil blocs to avoid delays in their work adding that the Board would not tolerate any delays.
According to him, companies who delayed in their work would be sanctioned in accordance with the Petroleum Agreements including repossession of their work.
The Board Members are Mr Egbert Faibille Junior, Chief Executive Officer of the Petroleum Commission, Professor Daniel Asiedu, a Geologist at the University of Ghana, Dr Jemima Nunoo of GIMPA, Mr Mahami Salifu, a Lawyer, and Mohammed Hardi Tuferi and Mr John Alexis Pwamang, Deputy Executive Directors of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The Board was sworn in by Mrs Anita Lokko, the Deputy Director of the Legal Department of the Ministry of Energy.