By Francis Tandoh

Friends of the Nation (FoN), a non-governmental organization is calling for proper mitigation measures in Ghana?s oil and gas exploration to enable the West African derive maximum benefit from the resource.oil
Programs Manager of FoN, Kyei Kofi Yamoah told Xinhua in an interview the recent discovery of oil in commercial quantities could be a blessing to the country if proper mitigation measures to regulate the sector were put in place.

He said, ?For us we believe oil is a blessing. It is the way we manage it. Ghana has to look for ways to manage its oil resource for it to be a blessing to the country.?
Yamoah expressed worry about the ill-equipped nature of state institutions in the West African country thereby affecting their capacity in playing the role expected.

The weak nature of state institutions including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Fisheries Commission among several others he emphasized has impacted negatively in the oil and gas industry.
Ghana discovered oil in commercial quantities in 2007 and commenced production in the last quarter of 2010.
Through its partners, 23 discoveries have so far being made with production commencing in the Jubilee Field in 2010.

Production was also expected to commence on the Tweneboa, Entonme and Nyenra (TEN) Projects as well as the Offshore Cape Three Points (OCTP) in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
After four years of oil exploration, the country?s Finance Ministry says the state has accrued 2.7 billion United States dollars (USD).

In spite of the contribution of the petroleum sector to the country?s economy, the FoN Programs Manager warns of emerging negative threats in the Western Region (Province).
Some of the threats from petroleum activities he mentioned include accidents with local fishing vessels, loss of fishing grounds, oil pollution and spills, destruction and damage of fishing gears and the perturbation of the local flora and fauna.

The Western Region (Province), between 2009 and 2014 has recorded 23 dead whales washed ashore, generating concerns among local communities as well as the general public to wonder what has evoked the occurrence.
Concerns have also been raised by communities along the catchment areas about low compensation paid to farmers who lost their farmlands as a result of pipelines laid from the Floating Production Storage Offloading (FPSO) Kwame Nkrumah vessel at the Jubilee Field to the only gas processing facility at Atuabo, near Takoradi, 218 kms west of here constructed by the Chinese firm, Sinopec.

Yamoah called for the strengthening of state institutions mandated to exercise oversight duties in the oil and gas industry, an Exclusive Fisheries Impact Assessment (EFIA) as well as protection of marine areas in the country.
On a recent tour to fishing communities in the Western Region to find out the impact the oil find in the country has had on the livelihood of the people, the fisher folks expressed their frustration about the low harvest they had in recent times as compared to when oil and gas production had not commenced in the area.
Nana Conduah, chief fisherman of Aboadze-Abuesi near Takoradi, and member of the Western Regional Fishermen Council urged the Ghana government and its Jubilee Partners to find proper ways of compensating the people since they had virtually lost their livelihood due to the oil and gas exploration.

The fishing industry contributes significantly towards the social, cultural and economic development of the country.

Not only does it provide direct employment for about 10 percent of the Ghanaian population, it also contributes about 4.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

In spite of the enormous contribution to Ghana?s economy, the sector is currently faced with the challenge of declining fish stocks due to weak governance.


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