A Ghanaian group here, Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas (CSPOG), is pushing for a legislation to clarify which state institution to be charged to collect surface rental as the country prepares to undertake onshore commercial production of oil and gas.

Chairman of CSPOG Steve Manteaw told Xinhua last Sunday the current arrangement where the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) was mandated to collect surface rental in offshore oil fields while the Office of the Administrator of Stool Lands (OASL) also collected ground rent for mining activities could create conflict.

Currently, Ghana’s Exploration and Production (E&P) law mandates the GRA to collect surface rental as pertained in the oil sector while the OASL does so in the mining sector.

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Surface rental describes the fee paid for occupying the surface or area in the process of extracting the oil resource. Its equivalence in the mining sector here is in the form of ground rent.

“Now when you have such a situation and we come to produce oil on the land, you will raise the question as to whether or not GRA will continue to collect surface rental because it is the oil industry or that particular role will be assigned to the OASL because the land on which the oil is extracted is held in trust for the people by the chiefs and traditional authority.

“Rationally, one will think that because the law requires that revenue derived from the exercise of surface right is treated as stool land revenue and paid to the beneficiaries through the OASL, it will be the OASL that will collect surface rental for onshore oil activities,” Manteaw said.

Manteaw, who is also a member of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), the body set up to monitor the use of the country’s oil revenue, urged the government to enact a legislation to provide clarity as to which body is mandated to collect the surface rent.

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Six years into commercial production of oil offshore, the West African country is shifting attention to onshore oil exploration.

Freddie Blay, Chairman of state oil company, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), said the country was in the process of awarding seismic test contracts for the onshore Voltaian Basin covering about five of the 10 administrative regions (provinces) in the country.

“We are making more efforts at finding oil in the Voltaian Basin; therefore, efforts are being made, seismic tests are going to be undertaken. Sooner than later, we are going to award the contract for the seismic tests to be carried out,” Blay said to Xinhua in an interview after the country’s president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had performed the official commissioning of oil production on the Sankofa-Gye Nyame field Offshore Cape Three Points (OCTP), 218 km west of the capital.

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Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh