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ACEP sounds alarm bells as govt withdraws Petroleum Bill

petroleumThe African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), has described the withdrawal of the Petroleum Exploration and Production (E&P) Bill, 2014 from Parliament last Friday as an attempt to continuously push oil contracts through the House without the appropriate transparency measures.

The Executive Director of ACEP, Dr Amin Adam, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS, that  a number of oil contracts had gone throughParliament using the administrative process of granting contracts which was vulnerable to abuse and corruption.

He said the E&P Bill had lots of transparency measures, he, therefore, did not understand why such a Bill which was of such importance would be pending for many years.

The government withdrew the E&P Bill which was before Parliament awaiting its passage, last week.

The Bill, which was laid in Parliament on November 2014, has now been replaced by a new Bill titled “Petroleum Exploration and Production Bill 2016”.

The Minister of Petroleum, Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, said the Bill needed to be withdrawn due to certain global developments in the oil and gas industry.

Although he failed to indicate what those global changes were, he said the new changes had been incorporated in the new Bill.

ACEP’s suspicion

Dr Adam, however, said ACEP suspected that the delay and subsequent withdrawal of the Bill was just meant to create room for the granting of oil contracts without the necessary transparent measures, especially when there were three or four oil contracts that the government was preparing to bring to Parliament.

He noted that ACEP was in favour of more transparency in the award process and was, therefore, happy that after several consultations with the government and Parliament, they incorporated some of the transparency provisions in the bill.

“It is, therefore, sad that a bill which has such transparency provisions is not being passed into law and yet oil blocks are being awarded to oil companies,” he said.

He said the more the Bill delayed, the more non-transparent measures were being used to award oil contracts and the more it was open to corruption and abuse.

Checks from Parliament

He said his outfit had made checks from Parliament and could not confirm that a new Bill had really been laid because it couldn’t get a copy of the new document.

Dr Adam said it wanted to get a copy of the document to ascertain how different it was from the old one.

He, however, expressed the hope that the new Bill would be an improvement over what had been withdrawn.

“There should also be an early programme to pass it into law before the end of the year because there have already been enough consultation on the Bill and we do not see why the new bill should be delayed,” he added.

E&P Bill

The E&P Bill seeks to ensure that upstream petroleum operations are conducted in accordance with the principles of good governance, transparency and sustainable development.

It covers new areas including provisions for reconnaissance licenses and open public tender process, improved fiscal terms including provisions on thin capitalisation and transfer pricing, regulations on infrastructure installation and operations, Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) standards and good governance.

On enactment and upon coming into force, the Bill will repeal PNDCL 84, save existing regulations, notices, orders, directives, appointments or acts lawfully made or done under PNDCL 84, all of which shall be deemed as valid acts emanating from the Bill unless subsequently revoked, cancelled or terminated in accordance with law.

Parliament using the administrative process of granting contracts, which was vulnerable to abuse and corruption.

He said the E&P Bill had lots of transparency measures and he, therefore, did not understand why such a Bill, would be pending for many years.

His comments came days after the government withdrew the E&P Bill, which was before Parliament awaiting  passage.

The Bill, which was laid in Parliament on November 2014, has now been replaced by a new Bill titled “Petroleum Exploration and Production Bill 2016”.

The Minister of Petroleum, Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, said the Bill needed to be withdrawn due to certain global developments in the oil and gas industry.

Although he failed to indicate what those global changes were, he said the changes had been incorporated in the new Bill.

ACEP’s suspicion

Dr Adam, however, said ACEP suspected that the delay and subsequent withdrawal of the Bill was just meant to create room for the granting of oil contracts without the necessary transparency measures, especially when there were three or four oil contracts that the government was preparing to bring to Parliament.

He noted that ACEP was in favour of more transparency in the contracts awarding process and was, therefore, happy that after several consultations with the government and Parliament, the Center’s suggestions on transparency were incorporated in the bill.

“It is, therefore, sad that a bill which has such transparency provisions is not being passed into law and yet oil blocks are being awarded to oil companies,” he said.

He said the more the Bill delayed, the more non-transparent measures were being used to award oil contracts and the more it was open to corruption and abuse.

Checks from Parliament

He said his outfit had made checks from Parliament and could not confirm that a new Bill had really been laid because it couldn’t get a copy of the new document.

Dr Adam said ACEP wanted to get a copy of the document to ascertain how different it was from the old one.

He, however, expressed the hope that the new Bill would be an improvement over what had been withdrawn.

“There should also be an early programme to pass it into law before the end of the year because there have already been enough consultation on the Bill and we do not see why the new bill should be delayed,” he added.

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Reporting Oil and Gas project was launched on 4th June 2009atTakoradi, Western Region, Ghana by Penplusbytes (PPB – www.penplusbytes.org) with the vision of providing a one stop online information and knowledge about Ghana’s oil and gas sector
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