The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is yet to apply its environmental rating mechanism dubbed “Akoben Rating” in the oil sector, more than six years after Ghana started oil production in commercial quantities.
The Akoben Rating system, which was introduced in the mining and industrial sectors since 2011, is a voluntary compliance mechanism to ensure that industry players conform to environmental regulations.
Under this system, the EPA collates information to ascertain the environmental compliance level of industry players by conducting scheduled and unannounced inspections at facility sites, scanning of media reports on environmental disruptions linked to industry players, receives complaints from host communities as well as information voluntarily provided by oil companies.
The EPA then rates each company according to its compliance level and publishes the report, to inform the public on whether the companies are adhering to environmental rules and regulations and internationally best practices of environmental standards.
Companies in the sector, especially mining companies take this rating very seriously because of the implication it has on their image and investment attraction.
Interestingly, despite more than six years of oil production, the EPA has been unable to apply this important environmental rating in the oil sector.
Although EPA claims to have been inspired by a similar voluntary compliance system in Indonesia called the Programme for Pollution Control, Evaluation and Rating (PROPER) in initiating the Akoben Rating system, the Akoben has excluded the oil sector from its catchment sectors unlike the PROPER.
Checks have also shown that not only PROPER of Indonesia considers the oil sector as an important sector of immense environmental consequence but also similar voluntary compliance ratings systems across the world including the Eco-Watch and Green Watch systems of the Philippines and China respectively.
However, the EPA is making no effort to include the oil sector under the Akoben Rating system.
In a telephone interview with the Western Regional EPA Director, Mr. Sarfo Afriyie, he said the agency was not considering taking such a move.
“It’s not something we’re considering. I’m not aware of anything like that,” he told this reporter.
But, some environmentalists say failure to include the oil sector under the Akoben Rating system exposes the country’s petroleum sector to careless adherence to environmental regulations by multinationals.
Ghana currently operates two commercially viable oil fields- Jubilee field and the Tweneboah Enyira Ntomme (TEN) oil field.