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21.02.2009 Business & Finance

IFC approves offshore oil projects in Ghana despite serious outstanding concerns

By BIC website

Civil society requests for a delay go unanswered as the project is approved in the absence of an environmental impact assessment and amid significant transparency and governance issues.

On February 19, the IFC's Board of Directors approved $215 million in loans to Kosmos Energy and Tullow Oil for the exploitation of newfound oil and gas reserves in Ghana's Jubilee field. The approval was made over the objections of civil society groups who requested that the Board delay consideration of the project until significant environmental and governance issues are addressed.

Among the outstanding environmental concerns are the lack of an environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA), plans to dump drilling waste into the sea, and inadequate assessment of the potential impacts of an oil spill; the chances of which are exacerbated by the use of antiquated equipment.

Meanwhile, a new report from Oxfam America about the challenge of new oil wealth in Ghana lays out key recommendations on preliminary steps that need to be taken before production begins, including the need for meaningful civil society input in the development of Ghana's master plan for the new oil sector and adequate legal and regulatory frameworks to manage the wealth.

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