A team of research scientists at a seminar on the Environmental and Social issues of extractive industries in Ghana on Thursday July 28, 2011 called on government to speed up the gas infrastructure project that aims to transport gas from the Jubilee Field.
They said several months after the start of commercial oil production, Ghana continued to flare associated gas at the Jubilee Field, which had 600 million barrels of proven reserves and a potential for about 1.5 billion barrels of oil.
They indicated that apart from the waste and loss in revenue, its associated health implications in terms of the emission of dangerous chemicals released into the air, sea and the eco-system could spell serious health problems for the inhabitants and also contribute to the current challenges of global warming.
The researchers enumerated the benefits of the gas infrastructure project in terms of saving cost of sole reliance on thermal energy supply and wood fuel in the form of charcoal.
They stressed that given the economic benefits of the proposed gas transmission processing infrastructure Ghana should make the construction of the project a priority to make gas a major source of energy in Ghana.
Dr Francis K.E. Nunoo, Senior Lecturer and Head of the Oceanography and Fisheries Department of the Faculty of Sciences, University of Ghana, said it was out of concern of the environmental and social impact of the activities of the extractive industries in Ghana that the Department sought a two-year funding from the US State Department.
He said the assistance would enable the Department to undertake a series of research activities including an exchange programme with the USA to create awareness and influence policy decisions and enforcement of the socio-economic, environmental and health implications of the activities of extractive industries.
He explained that under the exchange programme, 22 Ghanaian professionals were dispatched by the Department last year to the USA for a period of four months to study their best practices, after which similar number of participants were sent by the host country to Ghana for a similar research activity.
Dr Nunoo said the seminar was to discuss the findings of the various research teams and recommendations forwarded to the various sector Ministries, which include the Forestry, Fisheries, Minerals and Energy Commissions for prompt policy action.
He identified some of the recommendations by the team as the robust enforcement of the Renewable Energy Bill, which also focused on reducing reliance on wood fuel.
Dr Nunoo said the findings suggested that Ghana was currently running the extractive industry at a loss as far as revenue and environmental management were concerned citing the current rate and state of deforestation, land degradation, depletion of the ocean and the eco-system.
Dr Nunoo said the challenges with resource and revenue management of all the natural resources in the country, called for institutional strengthening and stakeholder involvement to ensure the harmonization of all policies for a common development goal.