The government is to establish a new body to regulate the oil and gas sector as the country begins offshore commercial production of oil from the Jubille Field Cape Three Points in the Western Region,before the end of the year.
Some of the Core Staff of Ghana National Petroleum Corporation are expected to form the nucleus of the regulatory body.
Adraft bill for the establishment of the body is soon to be laid before Parliament,Moses Asaga,Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee for Mines and Energy,announced this here on Saturday at a petroleum licencing agreement workshop for the Members of Parliament (MP).
The leadership and members of the Parliamentary Select Committees on Mines and Energy,Finance ,and Public Accounts participated in the workshop organused by the Canadian Parliamentary Centre,Revenue Watch Institute and the German Technical Cooperation.The objective of the wirkshop is to deepen participant’s appreciation of the petroleum agreements and the experiences of the other places to prepare them for theirn legislative and oversight responsibilty.
The MPs were of the view that the regulatory body would be impartial,independent and free of political interference in the in the performance of its professional role.
Mr Asaga,who is the Member of Parliament for Nabdam in the Upper West Region,said the issuance of licence for Petroleum exploration in the country had been temporarily suspended until the passage of the Petroleum(Production and Exploration) and Petroleum Revenue Management bills,which are before the house and due for debate soon.
He explained that the move was to ensure that petroleum agreements conformed to new legislative and regulatory environment.
The establishment of the regulatory body is seen to be in line with article 269 of the 1992 Constitution that provides for the establishment of commissions for the regulation of natural resources as it is in the case of minerals ,forestry and fisheries sectors.
The Petroleum(Production and Exploration) Bill currently before Parliament provides that the Minister of Energy takes responsibility over the regulation of the newly discovered natural resources,a situation which some MPs have raised concerns about saying that it is in breach of constitution.
Mr Asaga in response to the concern raised explained that the clause would be amended to conform with the provisions of the constitution.
Dr Keith Myers ,a consultants on oil and gas ,took the MPs through the fundamentals of petroleum licensing agreement and expressed the need for an effective licensing process to maximise value for the benefit of the country.
He said the MPs had the obligation to act in the national interest,devoid of any selfish or partisan interest,in the ratifying of petroleum licensing agreements and contracts.