Dr. Kwabena Donkor
Dr. Kwabena Donkor

One major reason why Ghana has landed in the current power generation mess is the failure of authorities to make gas a focal point in the exploration and development activities of the country, Dr. Kwabena Donkor has stated.

?I am very worried about the non-priority of gas in our exploration and development activities,? Dr. Donkor, who is the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Mines and Energy, says, suggesting: ??We will not have been in this power mess if in approving the jubilee plan of development we had placed sufficient emphasis on the development of indigenous gas.?

For him, we can be excused for that because that was our first time-the beginner?s mistake.

?Having experienced that challenge, it is incumbent on all of us, especially on civil society and policy makers that we prioritize our gas deposit; the development of indigenous gas capacity must be of high priority to us as a nation,? he said in an exclusive interview with The Business Analyst on the sidelines of the 4th Ghana Summit in Accra.

He said for the country to live up to its vision of generating enough power for domestic use and for export the time has come for the full optimization of associated and non-associated gas.

?Today our competitiveness as an economy is being eroded by the power crisis and in moving forward we need to take steps now, to guarantee our return to competitive advantage as an investment destination; and gas is a major element in this competitiveness,? he said.

Highlighting the advantages of gas optimization, Dr. Donkor, who is the immediate past head of the Petroleum Commission, said ?we are fortunate as a nation to have huge bauxite and iron ore deposits, but we are unable to exploit them because of the inadequacy of power. These are heavy power use industries.?

He observed that as an agrarian economy, with still about 60% of our people in agriculture, especially in the middle and northern belt, there is relatively very little use of fertilizer.

?Gas gives us the raw material to produce fertilizer within our economy; fertilizer use will increase productivity per-hectare of the average farmer; the small scale farmer would increase earnings because it would increase yield and pull a high segment of the Ghanaian working population out of poverty. If yield per acre increases, marginal revenue would increase,? he argued.

Ghana is currently embarking on building its first infrastructure to transport natural gas from the Jubilee field for processing onshore and thereby monetize associated gas from the field. There are also plans to harness additional gas from other offshore discovered fields for processing.

According to expert predictions, in the next ten years Ghana?s gas demand from the power sector is expected to be between 230 mmscfd and 850 mmscfd.

Dr. Donkor, a one-time deputy minister for Energy said current national efforts at optimizing gas in the country is woefully inadequate to support the envisaged role gas can play in the country?s economy.

?It is against this backdrop that I am calling for the prioritization of gas development, any pool of gas available should be harnessed,? he stressed.

The starting point in the whole process according to him should be the prioritization of indigenous gas, especially associated gas-bringing it to production as a national priority, followed by the establishment of a regasification plant- a facility to regasify LNG for the short to medium term to enable the bridging of the gap between Jubilee, Gye Nyame, and the Sankofa oil fields.

He called also for a national gas use policy, which should set out the priority use of gas. He was also not happy that a process to set up a gas master plan has been in the pipeline for over five years and still counting.

He has therefore called on policy makers and civil society groups to place a premium on every gas pool available in the country, especially associated gas since it has a comparatively far cheaper cost.

?We cannot emphasize enough the need for gas,? he stated, admitting that the absence of adequate power has had serious effect on the country?s industrial base.

?We should not also forget the multiplier effects of gas, fertilizer production, power; we stand a chance of being a major power producer in the sub-region; the infrastructure is there through the West Africa Power Pool arrangement for us to export power to Liberia through Cote d? Ivoire, and beyond.

?We can export power because we are currently doing an interconnection line to Burkina Faso and Burkina has connectivity to Mali, then to our Eastern part there is Togo, Benin thirsty for power and then also probably to the Western part of Nigeria. And that should be strategic, look at medium long term and that is how important power is,? Dr. Donkor stated

Source: Jeorge Wilson Kingson

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