Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Dr. Mohammed Amin Adam, says it will be “suicidal” for Parliament to pass the Petroleum Exploration and Production Bill that is before it into law in its current state.
He told the B&FT on the sidelines of the second edition of TV3 Network’s flagship programme dubbed “The Platform” that the bill currently awaiting parliamentary approval contains some contrasting clauses that, if not checked, will do little to the cause of openness and transparency in the dealings of regulators and actors in the oil and gas sector.
“It will be ‘suicidal’ for Parliament to pass the Petroleum Bill in the current state as there are certain clauses that must be looked in the interest of operational transparency.
“For instance, there is a clause that rightly pushes for competitive bidding of contracts on one hand then another clause that gives the Minister the monopoly to award contracts directly when he/she feels that it is in the best interest of the industry.
“So it’s just like giving money to a person with the right hand and taking it from him with the left hand,” he told the B&FT.
Dr. Adam said the bill must promote transparency and openness in the sector across the board—from how the revenues are generated to how they are managed.
He also made a case for the need for industry regulators to enact and enforce laws that will enjoin full disclosure names and company history of beneficiaries of various contracts in the oil and gas industry.
He said transparency and openness in the awarding of contracts to prospective companies will enable the general public to ascertain prospective contract beneficiaries have the required competence and experience to carry out the awarded project.
He said the absence of such a law can create a situation where non-sector related firms will acquire and front for contracts, make money for themselves and eventually sell those contracts to a third party.
“We need a law that will enjoin full disclosure of details of the beneficiaries of various contracts in the oil and gas sector. In the absence of such a law, some companies without experience in the business of oil and gas manage to front for contracts and sell them later.
“These companies, in such instances are making money while the country is yet to benefit from the resource,” he said.
“The Platform”, is an initiative of TV3 Network that pools sector actors, civil society organisations and the general public to deliberate on pressing national issues.
This year’s edition held at the Best Western Premier Hotel was on the theme – ‘Ghana’s Economy: Four Years after Oil Production’, and it also featured seasoned industry players including the founder of IMANI Ghana, Franklin Cudjoe; Dr. Thomas Kojo Stephens, a lawyer and Petroleum Policy Analyst; and Executive Director of KITE, Ishmael Adjekumhene.