The environmental devastation of the Niger Delta is a major reference issue in Ghana, that is set to produce its first oil. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Ms Joyce Aryee, cautioned the government on the drilling of oil wells.
She said that oil-drilling carried with it significant risks to the environment and cited how gas-flares, harmful bio-products and oil-spills had a marked impact on the Niger River Delta in Nigeria .
According to her, such problems occurring in Ghana would represent a major threat to the environment and socio-economic well-being.
She urged the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) to implement sternly the environmental laws and guidelines governing oil and gas exploration, development, production and distribution to protect the eco-system.
However, the former Managing Director of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Mr. Moses Oduro Boateng, had called for a more comprehensive legal framework to regulate the activities of all oil industry players.
Boateng noted that the current law, PNDC Law 84 and 188, did not go far enough and would need to be updated and strengthened in the face of changing trends in the petroleum industry.
He said it had become important to outline in some detail how revenues from the oilfields would be spent, put in place anti-corruption measures and ensure that the government uses the money in a way that would be of utmost benefit to the people.
The country, according to him, should begin to think more about tackling legal, fiscal and environmental issues, security concerns as well as socio-economic impact as it enters Phase One of oil production.
Boateng, who was delivering a paper entitled “The Jubilee Discovery, Opportunities and Challenges,” expressed confidence that the production targets of 120,000 barrels of oil per day and 120 million cubic feet of gas set for the first three years were achievable.
On Phase Two, that would commence in 2013, he added, would see production levels increasing by 100 per cent for both crude oil and gas, with gas production expected to hit 250 million cubic feet.
The former GNPC boss cautioned against over-dependence on the oil and said countries that did this could find themselves in trouble due to fluctuations in oil prices and global economic shocks.
Ghana should adopt an integrated approach to developing all the vibrant sectors of the economy to lay solid foundations and build strong pillars to achieve an economic breakthrough.