The government is to establish a new body to regulate the oil and gas sector as the country begins offshore commercial production of oil from the Jubilee Field Cape Three Points in the Western Region, before the end of the year.
Some core staff of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation is expected to form the nucleus of the regulatory body.
A draft bill for the establishment of the body is soon to be laid before Parliament, Moses Asaga, Chairman of the Parliament Select Committee for Mines and Energy, announced this at a petroleum licensing agreement workshop for Members of Parliament (MPs).
The leadership and members of the Parliamentary Select Committees on Mines and Energy, Finance and Public Accounts participated in the workshop organised by the Canadian Parliamentary Centre, Revenue Watch Institute and the German Technical Cooperation. The objective of the workshop is to deepen participant’s appreciation of the petroleum agreements and the experiences of other places to prepare them for their legislative and oversight responsibility.
The MPs were of the view that the regulatory body will be impartial, independent and free of political interference in the performance of its professional role.
Mr. Asaga, who is the Member of Parliament for Nabdam in the Upper West Region, said the issuance of licence for petroleum exploration in the country has been temporarily suspended until the passage of the Petroleum (Production and Exploration) and Petroleum Revenue Management bills, which are before the House and due for debate soon.
He explained that the move is to ensure that petroleum Revenue Management agreements conform to new legislative and regulatory environment.
The establishment of the regulatory body is seen to be in line with Article 269 of the 1992 Constitution that provides for the establishment of commissions for the regulation of natural resources as it is in the case of the minerals, forestry and fisheries sectors.
The Petroleum (production and Exploration) Bill currently before Parliament provides that the Minister for Energy takes responsibility over the regulation of the newly discovered natural resources, a situation which some MPs have raised concerns about saying that it is in breach of the constitution.
Mr. Asaga in response to the concerns raised explained that the clause will be amended to conform with the provisions of the constitution.
Dr. Keith Myers, a consultant on oil and gas, took the MPs through the fundamentals of petroleum licensing progress to maximise value for the benefit of the country.
He said MPs have the obligation to act in the national interest, devoid of any selfish or partisan interest, in the ratifying of petroleum licensing agreements and contracts.
Source: The Ghanaian Times