Nana Ato Arthur, Central Regional Minister last Tuesday urged assemblies, departments and institutions in the Central Region to map out strategies to undertake large scale production of salt, an essential ingredient in the oil industry.
He pointed out that the region would benefit directly and indirectly from the discovery of oil in the Western Region, with salt currently being produced on small-scale in Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem (KEEA), Mfantseman, Effutu and Gomoa Districts.
Nana Arthur made the call when addressing the opening session of a day's 'Regional Consultative Forum on Oil and Gas Policy Document', for Municipal and District Chief Executives and Heads and Representatives of Departments and Institutions in Cape Coast.
The forum, a follow up to the national forum on oil held recently at GIMPA, was to collate views of the participants to boost provisions in the draft policy document.
Nana Arthur said the Central Regional Co-ordinating Council had initiated 'serious discussions' with relevant stakeholders on how the region's fortunes would be enhanced, especially in tourism and human resource development.
He stressed the need for research into the by-product of crude oil to maximise the use of crude oil, adding 'we have the unique opportunity to put in place the appropriate mechanism and best practices to ensure that everyone benefits from the oil discovery'.
Nana Arthur called on stakeholders to guard against factors that might affect the country to benefit from the oil discovery as pertained in some oil producing countries. He urged the participants to make available the desired inputs that would ensure efficient management of oil revenue, in a comprehensive policy for the development of the economy, especially agriculture and industry.
Dr Mathew Appiagyei Gyamfi, Director of Petroleum at the Ministry of Energy, briefed the participants on the draft policy document in the key areas on resource, revenue, environmental management and security.
He explained that the main objective of the policy was to review current petroleum laws, to ensure the nation became a net petroleum and fuel exporter and a major player in the petroleum industry.
Dr Gyamfi said these were expected to be done in an environmentally sustainable manner, through the improvement of technology and knowledge transfer in petroleum operation. He announced that the construction of an additional oil refinery to be undertaken by AGORG Ghana Limited would soon begin at Takoradi.
During an open forum, Mr Alex Hughes, Central Regional Commander of Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), said there was the need for a policy to prohibit the establishment of industries near refineries to forestall extensive damage during fire outbreaks. He said GNFS did not have the requisite equipment to fight major industrial fires.
Dr Kofi Nyarko, Lecturer at the Department of Geography and Tourism at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) contributing on human capacity building stressed the need to adequately equip laboratories of the relevant tertiary institutions for the desired research in the industry.
Air Commodore Richard Awuku(Rtd), Central Regional Security Advisor, observed that rather than establish a new coastguard unit, the capacity of the Ghana Navy should be improved to forestall overlapping of duties. Other participants stressed the need for security co-ordination and comprehensive environmental protection strategies.