Senior energy expert Friday called on Ghanaian authorities to start developing the industrial base of the country if its local content policy for the oil sector should succeed.
Speaking to Xinhua here at the end of the three-day Ghana Oil and Gas Summit, Willy Olsen, a senior energy experts of the London based energy group CWC, said this should be done by developing skilled people and involving local firms to enhance their capacity.
He said Ghana was going to receive huge investments as a result of bringing gas on-shore, and “that means a huge amount of industrial activity is going to take place, which is more traditional in many ways.”
Olsen believed Ghana would not become a big oil producer but a medium-sized one, however, he said gas had greater potentials for the country.
“The resources are there, so they will see more projects; they will see more production and more activity, but it is not anything like the big producers in the world. “
“But maybe the most important part for Ghana would be the gas they have found, and using the gas in developing the country’s industrial base,” the expert maintained.
When oil was discovered in commercial quantities off the west of Cape-Three-Points in 2007, the government of Ghana negotiated for and secured the gas resources from the Jubilee partners for free, and declared a no-flaring regime in the territory.
This was because the country wanted gas to play a major role in expanding its electricity generating capacity to 5,000 mw by 2015 and the industrialization of the country’s economy.
Since then, Ghanaians have been eager to see the country’s first gas infrastructure take shape for gas to start flowing from the Jubilee oil field to fuel electricity and industrial development.
Olsen expressed hope for the country’s industrial potentials because of the high level of projects anticipated.
“We will see quite soon the starting modules in February 2013 in Takoradi which would be a step on the way to building that technology-based human capacity. Within the next two to three years, you would see activities you have never seen in Ghana before, which are going to add on to skilled people and involve local firms and help the capacity of the country,” Olsen added.
The expert however believed that building an oil and gas free zones enclave was not the first option for the West African country.
“My general attitude is that I do not like Free Zones. They are usually required because the bureaucracy of the system and the slowness of the system make it difficult to make decisions possible. Free Zones provide an area where you can make decisions faster and you can operate faster,” he stressed.
However he said he would not be surprised to see free zones coming into Ghana soon, especially to be centered around bringing in and out goods and services, which could be an advantage.
“But that turns out to be the alternative if the institutional and legal framework is not well in place,” said the expert.