The Relationship Manager at the Petroleum Commission, Madam Judith Blay has appealed to the media and civil society organizations (CSOs) to support the oil exploration in the Keta Delta Block.
According to her, when oil and gas is discovered and eventually production commences in commercial quantities in the area, the various regulatory bodies especially the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Petroleum Commission will monitor to ensure the oil firm, Swiss African Company which has been awarded the block, complies with regulations to benefit the community members and the country.
Madam Blay was speaking to the media, CSOs, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at the final day of the five-day public hearing organized by the EPA from Monday, June 4 to Friday, June 8 to illicit concerns and expectations from the citizens in the four districts that make up the Keta Delta Block.
The Public Hearing which was in accordance with the Environmental Assessment Regulations 1991, LI 1652 (Regulation 17) has become necessary after government in 2016 awarded the Block stretching from Ketu South, Keta, South Tongu and Ada East to the oil firm to explore for oil.
Chiefs and people of the area had earlier expressed apprehension on the proposed onshore and offshore exploration of oil in the Keta Delta Block saying, it would affect the environment and invariably, impact on their livelihood.
The citizens also feared that they might not profit from the proceeds of the oil when production starts with others citing the construction of Akosombo Dam decades ago with its attendant harms to Lower Volta without compensations.
Madam Blay however allayed such fears, stating that Ghana has learnt her lessons and the issues of Niger Delta will not happen in Keta Delta Block or any part of the country.
She also assured that the regulatory bodies will ensure there are employment avenues, local content and major development projects in the host community so that the company does not take advantage of them.
She therefore, urged all stakeholders to collaborate with the regulatory bodies and support the exploration to be successful and be watchdogs when the production begins so that the oil will be a blessing and not a curse to the host community and Ghana.
Mr. Kodzo Agbenor-Efunam, Deputy Director, Oil and Gas at EPA clarified that no company has been given permit to produce oil in the area but to search for oil (exploration) which will be regulated so that it does not cause any damage to the environment.
He emphasized that should the oil be found (which he prayed for because of the benefits to the communities), the Agency will continue to engage the public to illicit their concerns before giving the permit for any production activities.
Chairman of the Independent Panel on the Keta Delta Block, Prof. Sandow Mark Yidana, and Department of Earth Science at the University of Ghana thanked everyone who participated in the Public Hearing. He assured that all genuine concerns including environment and livelihood will be compiled and presented to the appropriate quarters for redress and then brought back to the communities for further deliberations.
The weeklong stakeholders engagement was given extensive online coverage by PenPlusBytes, an NGO which has done extensive media training in oil and gas, with support from Voltaonlinegh.com via their social media handles @penplusbytes @oilgasghana @voltaonlinegh
By: Ewoenam Kpodo/voltaonlinegh.com