The global fall in prices of crude has slowed down operations of businesses in the oil and gas sector in Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis. The economic situation in the Western Regional capital improved largely due to the discovery of oil and gas in 2007 as businesses and multinationals flocked to the city.
But the sharp downturn in the prices of the petroleum product has led some players in the supply and servicing of offshore facilities in the sector to cut down their costs of operation. Mr Wilfred Johnson Bentum, the General Manager of Zeal Environmental Technologies Limited (ZETL), an international environmental management services in oil and gas, said business has reduced over the period.
Briefing journalists touring the company’s plant site, he said that the company’s operations had gone down drastically since prices of crude oil fell from 104 dollars per barrel in 2004 to 50 dollars per barrel in 2016. Notwithstanding, Mr Bentum said the fortunes of his outfit, a trans-boundary waste management firm, which also provides both offshore and onshore oil fields and industrial waste management services looked brighter in the ensuing years as experts in the sector predict sharp increases in the prices of crude in early 2017.
He said the company created menial jobs to the local people, especially during its point of entry and construction phase. He said as a Ghanaian company employing 150 people and it would have no other option than to lay-off some of the workers if the situation continues.
The situation was, however, not different at the SeaWeld Engineering Limited, another wholly Ghanaian owned wielding and fabrication firm which provides general engineering solutions to onshore and offshore clients in the sector. Mr Daniel Adade, the Project Engineer, told the eight journalists undertaking a 14-day media training course on oil, gas and mining during a visit to the facility that “the operations of the company has become stagnant” due to the fall in crude prices. He said it provided services to Tullow, MODEC, EMAS, YINSON, ENI and TECHNIP – offshore clients in the oil sector but business had slowed down for some time now. Mr Adade said the company has created direct employment for 45 fabricators and 25 wielders in the oil and gas sector and offered skills training for the industry to engage local employees.
Mr Kwaku Boateng, the Director of Services of the Petroleum Commission, the main regulator in the extraction of oil and gas, said there is the need to maximize the patronage of Ghanaian goods and services by increasing in-country spending on the commodities. He said the mining sector was dominated by foreign companies and had weak linkages with other sectors because little there was very limited interest in local participation.
Mr Boateng said local content participation was virtually absent during the development of the one billion dollar Ghana Gas project. All these trends, he said, necessitated the need to promote local content participation in the oil and gas sector by ensuring that major players in industry strictly adhered to the local content regulations.
Local Content Act 2013 (Act 2204) describes local content as quantum or percentage of locally produced materials, financing, goods and services rendered to the oil industry and which can be measured in monetary gains. Mr Boateng said much success had been chalked under the Local Content Act adding that out of the 776 companies registered with the Commission to provide direct or indirect services in the sector, 480 of them are fully indigenous. He said in 2016 out of the 1.4 billion dollar contract awarded by Tullow from January to October, 67 percent of the contract amounting to 884 million dollars, were awarded to indigenous companies.
Mr Boateng said lack of quality standards, limited capacities of local companies to deliver services, insufficient financing opportunities for local companies as well as inadequate certifications and labour unrest as some of the challenges in the sector.