The Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas (CSPOG) has advised government to use the by-products of natural gas -condensate to manufacture fertilizer. This call was made during a workshop organized by the Platform in partnership with Ghana Oil and Gas for Inclusive Growth (GOGIG). The workshop themed “Options for addressing governance challenges in the oil and gas sector”, was attended by industry players who deliberated on key sector issues. Dr Steve Manteaw, a policy analyst and co-chair of Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) in his address spoke on the immense opportunities Ghana stands to gain by converting the by-products of natural gas into fertilizer. He added that the country should establish a fertilizer manufacturing plant that produces fertilizer that can be used by farmers in Ghana and beyond. He said, ”We use the lean gas to generate power, we also use the LPG to cook in our houses, cars and others. But what are we doing with the condensate?”
Dr. Manteaw further explained that the ammonia content in the condensate is useful for the purpose of fertilizer manufacturing. In spite of Africa being an agrarian continent, most African countries import fertilizer from India, Asia and other places. Tanzania, however, in recent times, is contemplating building a fertilizer plant. He therefore charged the sector ministry to consider this viable venture.
Ministry of Energy’s Response
On their part, the Ministry of Energy explained why the initiative though plausible was not possible. The ministry cited reasons such as the fact that the condensates currently being produced in the country is not enough to establish a fertilizer plant and that the cost involved in transporting condensates from other countries is very high. Furthermore, the storage of the condensates, according to the ministry, requires specialized tankers, trucks and pipelines which all come at a high cost. Thus, it will not be economically viable to site a fertilizer plant in the country.
In a quick rebuttal, Dr Manteaw vehemently opposed these views by the ministry. He however stressed that it will be economically prudent to establish a fertilizer plant in the country and import the raw materials –ammonia condensate from oil producing countries such as Nigeria, Equitorial Guinea, Cote D’Ivoire at a lower coast and transform them into final product –fertilizer. He added that exporting the final product will earn the country enough foreign exchange which can boost the economic fortunes of the country.
Meanwhile, Mr. Kwame Jantuah, vice-chairman of PIAC, also expressed dismay at these responses and charged government and the ministry to put measures in place towards attaining this laudable idea.
In a final remark, Dr Manteaw called on state actors and non-state actors to take advantage of these economic opportunities and act now.
Participants of the learning and training workshop included the media, civil society organizations, public institutions, government ministries and agencies among others.
www.reportingoilandgas.org- Kwabena Tabiri