Gov't to safeguard security of petroleum operations

Government has constituted a high level committee of security and legal experts to draft a policy document aims to safeguard operations in the oil and gas sector, Dr Joe Oteng-Adjei, Minister of Energy said on Friday. In an address read for him at a day's workshop on a framework to extend the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) to the Oil and Gas Sector, Dr Oteng-Adjei said the security policy document will create a safe, secure and enabling environment to facilitate the exploration, exploitation and distribution of oil and gas. "More specifically, the policy will protect the petroleum industry against acts of terrorism, sabotage, piracy and vandalism," the Minister said. Besides, it will prevent the diversion and stealing of petroleum products, prevent other users of the sea from interfering with operations, maintain general law and order and render timely response to emergencies in the oil and gas sector. Ghana signed up to the EITI mechanism in 2003 to enhance improved governance in the mining sector through full publication and verification of company payments and government revenues. Government plans to extend EITI from the mining area to the oil and gas sector. The workshop, therefore, was to allow stakeholders to discuss the draft framework. Dr Oteng-Adjei urged the participants to make useful inputs into the document to strengthen it to make it to stand the test of time. He said efforts should be made to ensure that transparency go beyond the monitoring of the flow of oil revenues to all contracts signed between the extractive companies and the government. Mr Seth Terpker, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said lack of effective governance benchmarks, weak institutions and the lack of transparency had led to corruption in some mineral rich countries. He said government was committed to a timely extension of the EITI principles to the oil and gas sector as part of measures to manage the resources that flow from them prudently. "It is necessary for the transparency, prudence, checks and balances we seek to permeate the entire value chain-from negotiation of contracts to utilisation of the resource that flow from such contracts," he said. While admitting that there would be challenges, the Deputy Minister said ability to evolve effective rules, laws, systems and procedures that stand the test of time could help resolve the problems. Mr Terkper asked participants to evolve solutions for the short, medium and long term interest of the country.