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29.02.2012 General News

Samia doubts 'cost effectiveness' relocation of Gas Plant

By Myjoyonline.com | Isaac Yeboah
Samia Yaba Nkrumah, Member of Parliament for JomoroSamia Yaba Nkrumah, Member of Parliament for Jomoro
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The Member of Parliament for Jomoro in the Western Region, Samia Yaba Nkrumah, is questioning claims that relocating the Gas Processing Plant from Jomoro to Elembelle will make better economic sense.

With many questions on her mind over the issue, Samia who issued a statement Tuesday over the development says she believes the process has poorly been handled or the decision was hastily taken.

The chairperson of the Convention People's Party and a member of Parliament's Mines and Energy Select Committee, she expressed surprise at the move because she was never consulted on any need to relocate the plant while all documentation on the project pointed to it being hosted at Jomoro.

“I would have expected myself and all stakeholders to be properly consulted about any possible relocation but this did not happen. Contrary to this, all the documents before the Mines and Energy Committee pertaining to the early phase of the gas infrastructure for the Committee to examine ahead of the approval of the $850 million loan from China Development Bank, being the cost of the early phase of the project.”

She said “Two weeks prior to the approval of the loan by Parliament for the early phase of the construction of the project, I raised the issue at the meeting of the Mines and Energy Committee, pointing out that all reference to the Gas Processing Plant indicate Jomoro as the chosen site. It was at that meeting that we were told of the likelihood of moving the plant to another location due to technical, scientific, economic and security reasons. When were all these considerations deliberated? Why was I, in my capacity as the MP for Jomoro, the popularly elected representative of the people of the constituency, kept in the dark? Why was the Mines and Energy Committee given documents referring to the Domunli area in the Jomoro District as the chosen location for the project? Why wait till this late hour before informing the people of Jomoro about the intended change of location? Why after all the expenditure relating to land evaluation and the demarcation work in the Domunli area in the Jomoro District, there is now, at this late hour, an urgency to relocate?”

Samia asked the Ghana National Gas Company to consider their decision very seriously, saying the “people of Jomoro must be respected and treated with consideration and understanding” in the fair distribution of development opportunities in the host districts to the oil and gas discoveries.

“On my part, I have together with the Western Nzema Traditional Council members and major stakeholders urged our youth in Jomoro to exercise restraint in this matter as we negotiate to resolve this matter. We have no interest in politicizing this development at the expense of our people's peace and progress,” she said.

See full statement below
WE MUST PROTECT THE UNITY OF THE NZEMA PEOPLE

Over the last two weeks, the people of Jomoro have been greatly distressed by the news of an intended relocation of the Gas Processing Plant to the neighboring district of Ellembelle. On behalf of the people of Jomoro whom I represent, I am expressing my displeasure and disappointment at the manner in which this whole affair has been handled by government.

For the past two years, the people of Jomoro were given the impression and they believed that the processing plant will be located in their district. Expectations were running high that a project of such magnitude will come to the district and impact positively on the lives of the people.

What is particularly worrying to us is that in the past two years, there have been a number of developments that indicated the said plant will be located in Jomoro. Personnel from GNPC and VRA have been in the district for the past few months demarcating land, conducting land evaluation exercises and compiling the list of recipients for compensation from landowners and farmers affected. Stakeholders including the Western Nzema Traditional Council, landowners, farmers, youth groups from the district at large and from the four communities around the demarcated site for the project have met on several occasions to sensitize those directly affected in readiness for initial construction to begin.

Those affected have made sacrifices and agreed to wait for the compensation because it was thought benefit would come to the communities and the districts as a whole.

As the Member of Parliament representing the people of Jomoro and a member of the Mines and Energy Parliamentary Select Committee, I would have expected myself and all stakeholders to be properly consulted about any possible relocation but this did not happen. Contrary to this, all the documents before the Mines and Energy Committee pertaining to the early phase of the gas infrastructure for the Committee to examine ahead of the approval of the $850 million loan from China Development Bank, being the cost of the early phase of the project. All the documents in my possession referred to the Domunli area in the Jomoro District when referring to the gas processing plant. The Mines and Energy Committee was asked to approve a loan upon which a budget estimate for the project was given with all the reference to the location of the Gas processing plant in the district of Jomoro.

Two weeks prior to the approval of the loan by Parliament for the early phase of the construction of the project, I raised the issue at the meeting of the Mines and Energy Committee, pointing out that all reference to the Gas Processing Plant indicate Jomoro as the chosen site. It was at that meeting that we were told of the likelihood of moving the plant to another location due to technical, scientific, economic and security reasons. When were all these considerations deliberated? Why was I, in my capacity as the MP for Jomoro, the popularly elected representative of the people of the constituency, kept in the dark? Why was the Mines and Energy Committee given documents referring to the Domunli area in the Jomoro District as the chosen location for the project? Why wait till this late hour before informing the people of Jomoro about the intended change of location? Why after all the expenditure relating to land evaluation and the demarcation work in the Domunli area in the Jomoro District, there is now, at this late hour, an urgency to relocate?

As far as we know, the site in Jomoro was deemed suitable enough for estimates for the project implementation to be based upon it. Prior to the decision to locate the project in Jomoro, a survey by the Geological Survey Department in October 2009 showed that the site in the Jomoro district is suitable. The evidence of this is easy to prove. The land area in Jomoro is 18.9sqkm2 of flat land with a buffer zone of 2km around it thereby fulfilling the requirements for the project. Inhabited communities are 2 to 3 km away from the enclave reserved for construction. Only one farmstead of not more than 5 structures needs to be relocated with a population of not more than a dozen people. The soil type is well drained and high in limestone, which makes it suitable for construction. The Domunli area in Jomoro is the closest distance to the Kwame Nkrumah FPSO from which the gas will be transported.

We have heard the argument that the Atuabo site is closer to the Takoradi/Aboadze area than the Domunli area. This is offset by the fact that it is far more expensive to construct and extend subsea pipelines from the wells to Atuabo. In addition, the FEED (Front End Engineering Design) has already been extended to the site in Jomoro. Part of the pipeline, about 14 km, is already laid. Why would we do that if we were uncertain about the location?

We have been promised that Petrochemical Industries will come to Jomoro. If that is the case, we will still need pipelines to Jomoro. Are we then going to construct more onshore pipelines back from Atuabo to the Domunli area?

I am raising these issues to refute the excuse that it is more cost effective to move the project away from the Jomoro district. We can argue backwards and forward on technical merits of one place or another. At the end of the day, both the Jomoro and Ellembelle districts are close to the oilfields. They are the same people of Nzema. They are one family, one ethnic group. But for the past few years, expectations of the people of Jomoro have been raised only to be dampened abruptly and for no justifiable reason. Many have sacrificed and chosen to wait for compensation for the benefit of the district as a whole.

The people of Jomoro must be respected and treated with consideration and understanding. We are asking for fair distribution of development opportunities in the host districts to the oil and gas discoveries. On behalf of the people of Jomoro, I am asking the Ghana National Gas Company to consider their decision very seriously.

On my part, I have together with the Western Nzema Traditional Council members and major stakeholders urged our youth in Jomoro to exercise restraint in this matter as we negotiate to resolve this matter. We have no interest in politicizing this development at the expense of our people's peace and progress.

At this point, I wish to clarify two issues for the record. I state categorically that I did not vote against the $3 billion China Development Bank loan last year which includes financing the project in question. The Master Facility agreement for the loan was approved by a voice vote, therefore where is the evidence that I voted against it as it has been purported.

Last week, Parliament approved the $850 million loan to finance the initial phase of the gas processing plant, thereby removing any obstacles to the commencement of construction.

Let us avoid any action that will divide the people of Nzema. Only last week we solemnly marked the 46th anniversary of the coup d'etat that toppled the government of Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, an illustrious son of Nzemaland, the African of the Millennium. The 1966 coup did not only deprive Ghana of decision-making and the hope of self-reliance but the people of Nzema suffered particularly hard. We lost many of our brave men on that fateful day. After all the loss and suffering of the past, finally justice is coming to the Nzema communities with the promise of development projects emerging out of the gas and oil discoveries in Ghana. The last thing we need is anything that would undermine the solidarity of the people of Nzema. Let us do our utmost to resolve this matter and ensure that peace and unity prevail in Nzemaland.

Samia Yaba Nkrumah

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