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15.01.2012 General News

GNPC envisages going into direct oil production

By Kofi Yeboah - Daily Graphic
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The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) is looking for a strategic investor for a joint venture partnership to go into full production of oil on its own.

The initiative is in line with the corporation’s medium-to-long-term strategic outlook in which it intends to explore, develop and produce oil on its own.

A Principal Human Resource and Administrative Officer of the GNPC, Mr Edward Appiah-Brafoh, who made this known on Wednesday during a forum at the 63rd Annual New Year School and Conference at the University of Ghana, could not give details of the envisaged joint partnership arrangement.

However, when the Daily Graphic sought further information on the initiative after the forum, particularly on when the GNPC was likely to begin oil production, he expressed optimism that “between a matter of five to 10 years, this should happen”.

Mr Appiah-Brafoh was one of four panellists who made presentations at the forum on the topic, “Ghana’s local content policy: Issues emerging”.

Currently, the involvement of the GNPC in the country’s oil production enterprise is largely a partnership of agreements with foreign oil companies, but the national oil company now wants to come off the fence and get onto the field by going into full oil production.

Mr Appiah-Brafoh said the joint venture initiative would ensure the transfer of knowledge and technology from the foreign partner to the GNPC and that would strengthen the legs of the corporation enough to stand on its own in the future.

He said there were also plans for the GNPC to venture into the marketing of Ghana’s oil on the international market.

He said the GNPC was making frantic efforts to attract Ghanaian oil experts working abroad back home to support the development of Ghana’s oil industry.

He said Ghana could not do away with foreigners in the oil industry, as some people wanted it, because the foreigners had the technical expertise and resources, which the nation lacked, to operate in the industry.

In his presentation, the Supplier Development Specialist at Tullow Oil, Michael Ahorlu, said his company awarded 1,223 contracts in 2011, out of which 60 per cent went to local companies and 40 per cent to foreign companies.

He said between 2009 and 2011, Tullow had awarded $302 million worth of contracts to local companies, but some participants demanded to know the quantum of contracts to local and foreign companies in terms of monetary value.

Mr Ahorlu explained that contracts were awarded to foreign companies because Tullow did not find any local company that measured up to the demands of the contracts, adding that it was important for local companies to operate efficiently and ensure high quality and safety standards.

“Yes, Ghana wants to drive a local content policy, but we are not in a position to sacrifice quality and safety,” he emphasised.

The Executive Director of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Mr Seth Twum Akwaboa, urged local companies to take advantage of the numerous opportunities in the ancillary businesses of the oil sector.

He said there was the need to build local capacity, without which Ghanaians could not make anything good from the local content policy.

Addressing the topic from the perspective of local service providers, the Vice-President of the Ghana Oil and Gas Service Providers Association, Mr Edwin Van-Otoo, said it was important for the nation to work towards taking control of its oil resources by building the capacity of Ghanaians.

He underscored the need for a national vision informed by the willingness of the present generation to sacrifice for the future generation in order to derive more benefit from the oil resource.

The Omanhene of the Asokore Traditional Area, Nana Dr S. K. B. Asante, who was the facilitator of the forum, said there was the tendency for decision makers to focus attention on the benefits of oil, without adequately addressing pertinent issues such as employment of local people and the transfer of technology and managerial expertise from expatriates to local people.

He stressed the need for the government and other stakeholders in the oil sector to take appropriate measures to actualise the local content policy.

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