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Revised Ghana petroleum exploration bill still being finalized

  • SOURCE: | Editor
  • Coat of Arms of the Republic of GhanaUntil a couple of months’ time, the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum (MoEP) will not be ready to pass on a revised Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Bill to cabinet for endorsement. Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, Minister for Energy, said on Thursday, August 1, 2013 that the draft legislation had gone through a review process, received a wide range of comments from key sector stakeholders, and was being finalized for submission to cabinet.

    The Minister gave the information in an address delivered on his behalf by J.B. Okai, MoEP’s Director for Policy, Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation (PPME), at the opening session of an international conference on payment disclosures organized in Accra under the auspices of Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), a local think tank.

    Speaking exclusively with this writer after delivering the Minister’s speech, Mr Okai explained that going by the Ministry’s schedule, the finalised bill should be on its way to cabinet in October, which is the same month in which legislators will reconvene from their current break.

    Barren any further reviews, the draft legislation after receiving cabinet attention will depart the ambits of the executive’s jurisdiction for the Ghana Parliament.

    According to Mr Okai, a long list of memoranda and comments has come in from stakeholders with some recommending additional provisions and others seeking to improve upon current provisions in the bill. Work on these comments and suggestions has therefore taken quite some time, hence the seeming delay in the onward transmission of the bill.

    When it becomes law, the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act, will replace the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) Law 84, which is the current law under which petroleum exploration and production activities are undertaken. It is also the law under which existing petroleum licences, including those of the Jubilee partners  led by Tullow Oil  were licensed.

    A previous version of the bill was withdrawn from parliament after the Majority Leader at the time, Mr. Cletus Avoka, had hint in November 2010 that the bill was to be withdrawn and repackaged.
    Later in February 2012, the then Deputy Minister for Energy, Inusah Fuseini denied the bill had been withdrawn. He claimed that despite the Ministry planning to replace the Bill it had not actually withdrawn the draft legislation. Rather, there was going to be a simultaneous withdrawal of the previous version and replacement with a revised version when the revision was completed.

    Addressing Thursday’s conference, which was supported by Oxfam and Ibis, Mr Mohammed Amin Adam, Executive Director of ACEP, asked the MoEP “to lay the new Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Bill before Parliament as a matter of urgency.”

    According to him, this will address the lack of open tendering or bidding process for acquiring prospecting or exploration rights in the oil industry. Also, it will assist in addressing the gap in mandatory contract disclosure and deal with excessive ministerial discretion in the contracting process.

    Source: Frederick Asiamah

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