The first phase of the project, involving land clearing, filling, and laying of pipelines had started.
Journalists, who visited the site at the weekend, noticed that that SINOPEC Construction, Chinese contractors of the project, was working, and had engaged some local people within the communities to clear rubbish.
The journalists were on a familiarization visit, as part of ongoing media training workshop on oil and gas reporting.
It is being organized by the Revenue Watch Institute in partnership with International Institute of ICT Journalism (Penplusbytes) and the Thompson Reuters Foundation in UK.
The mechanical completion of the gas plant is expected by close of 2012 with first gas expected to be transported to the Volta River Authority, early next year after Ghana start to produce gas in commercial quantities in February 2013.
Mr. Sunu-Attah, Project Development Manager, Ghana National Gas Company, noted that the project holds lots of prospects as it would provide a new economic growth pole for the country, starting with the Western Region.
He said the project is expected to provide the opportunity for a more competitive pricing of indigenous gas generation of much lower cost power, secure competitiveness of Ghanaian industry, accelerate economic development and also support strategic objective of becoming a petroleum processing hub.
Mr Sunu-Attah said the strategic and operating objectives of the gas project within the short term was to focus on developing a gas infrastructure project, to process and pipe Jubilee Phase one gas to Takoradi Thermal Plants in Aboadze.
That, he noted would build the early phase gas infrastructure project by the end of 2012, which would comprise a fully integrated and profitable gas business to serve the Ghanaian and export markets.
“The project is going to be fast-tracked but safety and efficiency would not be sacrificed”, the Project Manager assured.
The site at Atuabo is one of the several areas acquired by government in the Western Region, to prepare and build requisite infrastructure for gas operations and controls centers.
Helicopter surveillance fleet for protection of the gas facilities and petro-chemical plants has been incorporated in the project.
Preparation of commercial and technical agreements for purchase, gathering, processing, transport and delivery of natural gas, would also begin with commencement of commercial operations on completion of the early phase of the project.
Mrs Lydia Asamoah, Ghana News Agency (GNA) reporter, was among the journalists who visited the area to have a first- hand information about the progress of work and about the communities’ expectation of the project.
Awulae Amihere Kpanyinli III, Paramount Chief, Eastern Nzima Traditional Council, interacted with the journalists.
He said the gas project had gone far “but time is of essence” and called on all stakeholders to work assiduously towards the completion of the project, which is expected to provide jobs for the people.
Awulae Kpanyinli said issues like the implications of the gas project on the environment were of much concern to the people.
He appealed to the government through the Ghana Gas Company: “to spell out the implications of the project on our environment and how it could be managed,” so as not to affect the economic activities of the people.
Awulae Kpanyinli said the people within Eastern Nzima, which include Atuabo, Asem Besuaso, Ellembele, Jomoro and Anochie, were all expecting that with the coming into being of the project, and other migrants into the communities, “our culture will be preserved, our language would remain intact, and we will continue to eat our local food like akyeke and fomfom”.
He also stressed on the need for the youth, who would be employed at the site to learn on the job so that they could take charge of the project in future.
Awulae Kpanyinli called on government to ensure compensation for individuals, including farmers whose food crops such as cassava, maize, sweet potatoes, yam, beans oil palm, banana, cashew, tiger nuts, mango and bamboo and raffia were destroyed.
He called for free information flow on the project for the people so that they would be abreast with the progress of work and other issues concerning the project.
Awulae Kpanyinli asked investors not to concentrate their activities at Atuabo but to spread such investments to surrounding communities.
Philip Ackah, a 19-year-old resident of the area, told journalists that he was working at the gas plant site at Atuabo and was being paid GHC 12.00 daily and complained that the amount was too small.
Madam Esther Morkeh, a resident of Anochie, near Atuabo, told the Ghana News Agency that both her son and son-in-law work at the plant site.
Madam Morkeh, popularly known as Mama Gee, expressed optimism that as the work on the plant progresses more jobs would be created
She called for scholarships for the brilliant but poor school children in the communities and the building of teachers’ bungalows.
Lonrho Oil Services, a British company, was preparing to establish a port within the Atuabo community.
Lonrho had acquired land opposite the gas processing plant site at Atuabo.