As part of the campaign to deepen public knowledge on the country’s emerging oil and gas sector, the Kumasi Institute of Technology, Energy and Environment (KITE) is organizing educational campaigns for selected Senior High Schools and tertiary institutions across the country.
The campaign being sponsored by Ghana Research and Advocacy Programme (G-RAP) is expected to shape the perceptions, expectations, and attitudes of students to enable them gain the capacity to make informed decisions on discussions regarding the nascent oil and gas industry in Ghana.
The programme, which is targeting at least fifteen schools in each region, also affords the students the opportunity to seek clarification on pertinent issues regarding the sector.
The latest forum, which was held in the assembly Hall of Accra Academy, brought together students from fifteen institutions in Accra to discuss several issues on the oil and gas sector, including the history of oil exploration in Ghana, formation of hydrocarbons, prospecting and production of oil, the oil and gas value chain, the expected revenue from the Jubilee Field, expected impacts of the emerging industry on the country’s economy and the environment, and job opportunities that it offers.
Addressing the students, the Deputy Minister of Energy, Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah, urged them to study hard to take advantage of the opportunities that the industry offers. He said employment in the field will not be restricted to the sciences alone, but cut across all disciplines.
Mr Boah assured the students that government is committed to ensuring that revenues from the sector will be managed transparently to ensure that it benefits all Ghanaians as well as future generations.
He said government is supporting Ghana National Petroleum Corporation’s capacity to undertake further exploration activities for Ghana to have more share in oil production in the country. Government also intends to increase the local content and participation to maximize national value creation from petroleum resources through generating employment opportunities, adding value and gaining access to technology and knowledge.
The Director of KITE, Ishmael Edjekumhene, in a presentation on "Ghana’s Emerging Oil and Gas Industry: What Every Student Need to Know", told the students that the emerging industry holds some appealing prospects for the Ghanaian economy but this may have been exaggerated and as a result the expectation from the public, especially those in the oil bearing communities have been very high.
He said as the greatest potential for maximizing national benefit appears to be the associated gas rather than the oil there is therefore the need for cautious optimism as well as taking aggressive steps to commercialize the gas.
Mr Edjekumhene also explained to the students that the exploration and production of oil and gas in the country are likely to induce economic, social, environmental and cultural changes on coastal communities that become the principal staging areas for offshore production.
He said the industry also presents a number of opportunities as well as threats to residents in the frontier communities closest to the oil production sites. The opportunities are mainly in the areas of employment, business, training and improved access to infrastructure and social amenities and the threats relate to the effects of the exploration and production on local culture, population levels, cost of living, existing infrastructure, traditional economic activities such as fishing, and the biophysical environment.
On job creation, Mr Edjekumhene explained to the students that generally there are few employment opportunities in the core oil and gas related activities since it is a highly specialized industry requiring top notched skilled labour. Therefore, direct employment is not expected to be very large: It is estimated that up to 670 staff in total will directly be employed at the peak of the project, reducing to about 300 during the operational phase. However, there will be indirect jobs from allied industries relating to the oil and gas, especially in the service sector.
He explained to the students that there are many different types of jobs associated with the oil and gas industry and they have their entry qualifications and "the more training and education you have the higher the level of job you can get."
The Director further explained to them that although located in Ghana, the oil and gas industry is international and global in character, thus very competitive, but skills learned in the industry are generally transferable to other sectors of the economy.
For them to qualify for jobs in the sector, he said, they need to study hard to be on top of the game, but they must as well ensure that they obtain their training from accredited institutions.