Prez Kufuor: Let Our Oil Be A Blessing
Prez Kufuor: Let Our Oil Be A Blessing Website
President J.A. Kufuor on Monday opened a consultative forum on Ghana's emerging oil and gas industry and charged stakeholders to draw up a policy that will ensure that the find becomes a “blessing rather than a curse.” Towards the achievement of that goal, President Kufuor said the government would continue to hold consultations and learn from the experiences of countries that had preceded Ghana in the discovery and production of oil and gas. Addressing the consultative forum in Accra, the President said the government would ensure that lessons from those countries provided the guide for ensuring that best practices were adopted to promote economic growth and national development devoid of any negative environmental consequences. The two-day forum, being attended by a wide spectrum of stakeholders, is organised along four thematic areas: Turning Oil and Gas Wealth into Sustainable and Equitable Development, Entrenching Transparency and Stakeholder Engagement, Effective Management of the Oil and Gas Sector and Safeguarding Security and the Environment. It is another significant move in the oil exploration activities which began in Ghana in the late 1890s, leading to the 2007 discovery of oil in commercial quantities by Kosmos Energy and Thilow Oil in wells in the offshore Tano Basin and west of Cape Three Points in the Western Region. Conservative estimates indicate that the initial quantity of oil discovered so far is three billion barrels, with prospects of further finds as exploration activities are still underway. The country is set to begin drawing significant quantities of crude oil next year from the fields at Cape Three Points and it is expected to earn $836 million annually from oil revenue when initial production begins. The country's oil import bill hit more than $2 billion in 2007, almost three times the bill for 2004, which stood at $775 million. In some developing countries, the discovery of oil has become a curse rather than a blessing. Studies have even indicated that development in some countries which have discovered oil tends to slow down instead of growing fast. To avoid such a misfortune, President Kufuor said the government initiated the consultative forum to brainstorm to shape the nation's emerging oil industry, both upstream and downstream. He underscored the need for all stakeholders to appreciate the fact that the oil discovery was a national asset which, therefore, needed to be managed as such and above all sectional interests. President Kufuor asked tertiary institutions, as well as the banking and financial sector, to position themselves strategically to develop the manpower and financial products for the national engagement. In the short term, the President said the country would need expertise from other countries but underscored the need for technological transfer in order not to perpetuate a dependency syndrome. The Minister of Environment and International Development of Norway, Mr Erik Solheim, commended Ghana for beginning its oil exploitation with a national dialogue to reach out to all stakeholders. He said in spite of the oil find, what had become obvious in international development effort was that countries had achieved successes not so much because of their natural resources but with great minds and hard work. Mr Solheim, who shared the experiences of Norway in the exploitation and management of oil and gas, underscored the need for Ghana to appreciate the fact that oil and revenue were national assets which belonged to all the people. He also spoke of the need for transparency in the management of the oil resource, sound environmental management and the involvement of civil society. The Chief Advisor to President Kufuor and Chairman of the Ministerial Committee on Oil and Gas, Mrs Mary Chinery-Hesse, said the oil discovery was yet another opportunity for Ghanaians to take their destiny into their own hands. She said the forum was part of the national effort to minimise the unintended consequences such as conflicts, environmental degradation and violent confrontation which had become associated with oil discovery in some countries.