The parent legislation to regulate Ghana’s oil and gas sector may be passed before 2017 barring any unforeseen circumstances, a Member of Parliament on the Mines and Energy Committee of Parliament has hinted.
According to him, “all things being equal, the ‘E and P’ Bill could be passed by the end of the year (2016).”
Mr. Mutawakilu Adam, the Vice Chairman of Mines and Energy Committee in Parliament and the MP for Damongo gave the hint in Koforidua recently when he updated Editors and reporters on the state of Ghana’s Exploration and Production (E and P) Bill at a Symposium on Oil and Gas.
The News and Editorial Symposium on Oil and Gas was organised by Penplusbytes and Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI).
Nine years after Ghana discovered oil and six years after producing first oil, Ghana is still operating with the 1984 law on oil exploration. After several agitation and call for a new law, the E and P bill developed and finally lay before parliament in November, 2014.
Answering a question on whether the parliament could pass the E and P Bill this year, 2016 considering the limited time left for parliamentary work; Mr. Adam noted that “As a committee we hope so and I am aware the speaker is passionate about the bill.”
Mr. Adam, who made the presentation on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee, explained that after the bill was first laid in parliament in November 2014, it was referred to the Mines and Energy Committee which have done a thorough work.The committee then laid its report and amendments on the floor of Parliament on the 23rd March 2016 for the plenary, but could not be discussed before parliament went on recess.
He was hopeful that all necessary discussions on the bill would be done when parliament returns to sitting from late May to July. “November to December is another siting and hoping that it will be passed by then, he wished.
He explained that his expectation is not cast in stone and hence anything could happen on the floor of parliament; for instance the discussion could take longer than expected, new amendments may come up, the committee may be redirected to go and do further work some areas the legislators deem fit among others. Apart from these unexpected issues, “the bill could be passed before parliament raps up its work this year, Mr. Adams expected.
He also noted that the committee has reached consensus on 99% of the most contentious provisions in the bill and hoping to use the time between now and final consideration on the floor to further engage and the remaining contentious provisions.”
The exploration and Production Bill which is popularly referred to as the E and P Bill when passed will be the parent legislation to regulate Ghana’s oil and gas sector. It is a crucial legislation within the petroleum sector which is hoped to bring outmost benefit from the sector. It was first laid in parliament on Friday 6th July 2010, but was withdrawn for further consultations. It was then laid on the floor of Parliament on November 12, 2014.
According to Mr. Adam, “The object of the current bill is to provide for and to ensure secure, sustainable and efficient petroleum activities in order to achieve optimum long term petroleum resources exploration for the benefit and welfare of the people of Ghana” The bill when passed into law is expected to replace PNDC law 84 (1984) which is now obsolete considering the current dynamics of the sector.
The bill which contained 95 Clauses covered among other things, Licensing of blocks, Exploration, Development, Decommissioning , Local Content, Domestic Supply obligations, Health and Safety, Environment and Fiscal Regime to adopt (like, Award of blocks, Royalties, Taxes, Bonuses and other oil entitlements).
As part of critically examining the bill, the committee requested submissions of written memorandum from the public and also contacted key stakeholders for inputs. It also travelled to other countries to study and learn from best practices in Malaysia, Norway and Trinidad and Tobago.
By: Fredrick Duodo