He said whereas some provisions in the agreement lacked transparency, the agreement could be described as an example of the jaundiced and confused policy and legal framework for oil governance in the country, making room for corruption.
Presenting a legal and political economy analysis of the deal to members of the Institute and Financial Journalists at Akosombo, Prof. Atuguba said although the Petroleum Exploration and Production Law (2016), Act 919 had an excellent objective, some policy provisions within the same law undo all the fine provisions.
“The problem is not in the policy intendment of the law.
The problem is the undoing of the fine policy provisions by the operational provisions. Whilst one legal arm gives, another takes in the dark,” he said.
He said from the end of the provisions on “Petroleum Agreements”and into the provisions on “Exploration” and after, there was a regulatory confusion with various aspects of the same subject being controlled by the minister alone, the commission alone, the minister and the commission and the minister in consultation with the commission.
Powers of the minister
He explained that the current Petroleum Exploration and Production Law (2016), Act 919 wielded so much power to the Energy Minister, creating a loophole for easy manipulation.
He said it was the minister alone who determined whether or not anyone got an oil block and Parliament only ratifies, while the Petroleum Commissionis only consulted.
“He also determines if and when you loose it. And the Supreme Court just said that Parliament had no hand in this.
Additionally, petroleum activities by the corporation, contract area, operator, duration, change of ownership, assignment, sub-contracting, pre-emption, transfer of assets to the corporation, review of terms and conditions are determined 90 per cent by the minister,” he said.
The minister, he also explained, determined whether or not to waive all of the nice policy things stated in the law.
The Constitution says all ExxonMobil deal exposes flaws in Petroleum Law natural resources must be managed by a commission. The minister has a lot of power and that power unfortunately can undo all the good in the law. By targeting one on one with the minister, you can do anything you want to do with Ghana’s oil and go scort free.
Although the minister is supposed to be subject to the Law, Prof. Atuguba explained that the law was rather being subject to the minister with he alone taking all the decisions and making determinations.
“The minister is supposed to be subject to the law; in that case, the minister will just be one person sitting with a commission which makes all the determination,” he said.
He , therefore, urged journalists to look out for crafty legal drafting that transfers power from one agency/person/institution to others and an agenda to focus power on one man, rather than on a “commission”, of several, diverse people, representing several constituencies and reflects better the entirety of the Ghanaian people.
AConstitutional and Petroleum Law Expert, Professor Raymond Atuguba has said the petroleum agreement between Exxon Mobil Corporation (ExxonMobil) and the government of Ghana exposes the flaws in the legal framework for oil governance in the country.
Prof. Atuguba also bemoaned the poor money in which the country was managing its petroleum resources with respect to what revenues were being used for and the kind of agreements being signed.
He said it was important to use oil to build sustainable and renewable projects considering the fact that it was an exhaustible resource.
“It is imperative that we harvest now and invest insustainable and renewable resources,” he said.
He said “the point I am making is that we are not managing our petroleum resources well. Look at the entire weight of the burden, including the environment, loss of livelihood and others; by the time you finish calculating that burden, you will be getting negative from your oil in real terms.”