The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) says it “categorically rejects” allegations by Atwima Mponua MP Isaac Asiamah that the state oil company disregarded parliament and used improper means to rent a temporary office space in the Dennis House building at Tema.
Mr Asiamah made the allegation on the floor of parliament during a debate on the president’s State of the Nation Address. He said the GNPC was using GHS5 million on the one-year rent despite advice against it.
According to him, the GNPC went ahead with the rent despite having been asked to desist from hiring a similar office complex in Accra at $40 million for a period of 10 years.
In a statement, however, the GNPC said its Board gave approval to rent space at the adjacent Dennis House because of the “dilapidated” state of the Petroleum House building (that GNPC owns), which requires “urgent refurbishment”.
The seven-floor building, which has not been refurbished for the last 25 years, according to GNPC, also poses a “high-risk” to GNPC staff, because it has no fire exits.
In addition, the GNPC said Petroleum House limits its ability to hire critical staff that “we require to help drive our operations, because of the nature of the building and the constraints with space”.
According to the statement, the Board, in line with GNPC’s governance structure, approved of the firm’s rental of the temporary office space at Dennis House.
It said although GNPC had the “utmost respect” for Ghana’s Parliament, “in this instance their approval was not required”.
The accusation of impropriety is “untrue and disappointing”, GNPC said, adding that the move to Dennis House is to accord the firm the ability to carry out the much needed renovations to Petroleum House. The statement said GNPC’s rental of multiple floors at Dennis House, is a temporary solution, whilst the worst affected floors at Petroleum House receive emergency renovation.
“This is why multiple floors have been rented in phases, with staff occupying them through separate tenancy agreements as and when spaces became available; and it is worth critically noting that even so, Dennis House cannot accommodate all GNPC staff, some of whom continue to work at Petroleum House.
“GNPC readily provided copies of these tenancy agreements to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Mines and Energy, upon request, as there is nothing to hide on this. GNPC will, in fact, open its doors to members of the media shortly to tour Petroleum House and form their own opinions in order to drive an informed conversation,” the statement added.
GNPC was established in 1983 by PNDC Law 64 to provide the institutional framework to support the Government’s objective of providing adequate and reliable supply of petroleum products and reducing the country’s dependence on crude oil imports, through the development of the country’s own petroleum resources. Backed by the Petroleum (Exploration & Production) Law 1984, PNDC Law 84, the Corporation started operations in 1985. PNDC Law 84 also grants GNPC the right of entry into any open acreage to undertake exploration activities.