Saturday, April 05, 2014

Develop master gas plan for Ghana

Government has been urged to consider developing a master gas plan for Ghana and also consider laying before parliament the petroleum exploration and production bill.

This, according to analysts was very urgent, because it would provide the framework for the exploitation of Ghana’s gas potential, where incentives that would attract investors to come in, explore and develop gas fields would clearly be stated.

For instance, according to the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), an energy policy think tank in Ghana, even though the first gas delivery from the jubilee fields for the Ghana Gas Company was expected in the middle of this year, there were still a number of outstanding operational steps to be undertaken with regards to who actually owns the gas.

Speaking at a roundtable meeting with some journalists in Accra on the theme, “Gas Commercialisation as a Solution to Ghana’s Energy Crisis – Myth or Reality, the Executive Director of ACEP, Dr Mohammed Amin Adam maintained that the problem of ownership of jubilee gas was yet to be resolved.

Who owns jubilee gas

He said in the contracts signed with jubilee partners, the Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC) owns the gas but the mandate establishing Ghana Gas gives the company the power to own gas, transport and sell it. 

“So would GNPC continue to own gas on behalf of Ghana or will it be transferred to Ghana Gas,” he asked.

“Apart from this we are yet to sign an agreement with the jubilee partners with the evacuation of gas which would govern the relationship.” 

He said the Volta River Authority (VRA) was supposed to be the primary user of jubilee gas, yet a gas purchase agreement between VRA and Ghana Gas or GNPC, or whoever the owner would be was yet to be signed.

“And these are not simple issues. If we want to wait until gas is delivered before we are running around to sign those appropriate agreements.”

The roundtable meeting was organised by the International Institute of ICT Journalism - Penplusbytes in partnership with Revenue Watch institute - Natural Resource Charter, for 32 journalists and editors who have successfully completed a “Strengthening Media Oversight over Extractive Industries” training programme.

Gas master plan

Dr Adam, an expert in energy policy contributing to the discussions at the meeting said there have been talks for some time now on the master gas plan but it was yet to be developed.

“We need it as a matter of urgency because that gives us the alternative uses of gas and how we can ensure that over a certain period gas is delivering to us what we need from gas.”

According to him, a gas poison policy for instance which was recently developed was a bold attempt but government needs to go beyond that to develop gas rules – rules for determining gas prices because it would provide some regulatory certainty to any investor who wants to come into the sector.

“If we are able to take these appropriate steps, I believe the rest of the gas reserves, which at the moment are not unplanned for commercialisation would be brought on-stream to add to the sources of fuel needed to provide reliable power to Ghanaians

Challenges in power sector

He maintained that most of the challenges in the power sector have been attributed to the inability to procure sufficient light crude oil or diesel to bring all oil fired plants on-stream

He said Ghana has become infectious with gas in recent times because for the first time, the power crisis have not been attributed to water shortage or low levels at the Akosombo Dam but as a result to shortage of gas.

He said putting up more gas plants meant the country would be vulnerable when gas was not available.

International Institute for ICT Journalism

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