Ghana’s Oil Going The Way Of Gold—Part 2
Continue From Thursday, July 3, 2014 Of The Chronicle Written By Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh
Most Nigerians living in the southern part of Ghana have re-located to the Western Region of Ghana because of the oil deposit. There have been reports that some of these Nigerians who migrated to the region are natives of the troubling Niger Delta State which is a home to Nigeria's oil wealth.
These Nigerians with their long years in oil expertise are bulldozing their way through the Ghanaian oil industry, resulting in most young Ghanaians being left out in the hydrocarbon industry.
Security experts, including Lord Aikins Adusei, warned that the rate at which oil producing countries, especially in West Africa, experienced unabated period of bloody clashes should be a wake up call for Ghana.
He noted: "Almost all the countries in Africa where oil is being produced have seen some kind of instabilities and warfare; from Angola, to Congo, to Ivory Coast to Libya, to Nigeria and Sudan, the examples are many.
"Ghana being an emerging oil producing country, the threats of few disgruntled individuals taking up arms and causing unrest in the country cannot be ruled out in the long term.
"Already, there is clear indication that weapon proliferation in Ghana (which could make instability in the oil producing part of Ghana possible) is growing and will give the country enormous challenge if it is not dealt with."
Writing in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies, Kwesi Aning, a renowned security expert at the Kofi Annan Centre also noted that:
'While Ghana is generally perceived as a stable state, there are enough small arms in circulation to be worry about.
"In addition, there is increasing anxiety that the instability that has engulfed the West African region can impact negatively on Ghana if concerted endeavours are not undertaken to understand and map its proliferation of small arms.
"Critical indicators of the proliferation of small arms in Ghana are the daily reports of firearms-related criminal activities in all parts of the country, and the widespread availability and misuse of small arms, particularly pump action guns, shotguns, pistols and AK47s.'
Mr. Adusei in a report entitled: 'Does Ghana Need Special Forces?' warned:"Now take these weapons and send it to Takoradi, give it to few disgruntled people in the region and we will have major problems similar to the petro dollar-insurgency in Nigeria.
'In short, the availability of these weapons, coupled with other factors have the potential to affect the security of oil and gas production, transportation and supply in the country.
'Research conducted in Takoradi and its environs indicate that the ingredients that had fueled the petro-insurgency in the Niger Delta also exist in Western Region".
Many of the attacks on oil and gas pipelines and other installations in Nigeria have been attributed to the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and other ethnic militias.
These attacks, the security experts say, have sometimes affected gas supply from Nigeria to Ghana under the bilateral gas agreement between the neighbouring countries.
As Ghana's oil production surges, the threat of attacks on oil and gas installations must be taken serious. The threats by youth in Jomoro that they would cause mayhem if the gas plant was not established in their district should not be taken lightly.
Pirate and hostage taking of oil and gas workers is a major appetite for criminal syndicates seeking to profit illegally from the oil and gas sectors. In many parts of the world it has been the duty of Special Forces to eliminate the threats posed by hostage takers and kidnappers.
Unlike Nigeria, Ghana today has not gotten to the situation where oil and gas workers are kidnapped on the daily bases, but to prepare for that day will not be a wrong thing to do.
It is regrettable to see many females between the ages of 14-50 engaged in prostitution as their only way of 'siphoning' the oil cash from the expatriates and some Ghanaians as well.
Prostitution which is the world's oldest profession, so they say, is being practiced by nationals from Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Togo, with their Ghanaian counterparts serving as middle-women in the trade.
The 'thigh' trade in Ghana, especially the Western Region, has continued to thrive ferociously amidst a litany of cultural, religious and moral biases.
For all the ridicule they have to live with, prostitutes world over are known to ride on the fortunes of development and that is why whenever there is urbanisation, they crop up.
Richard Kintu, a Deputy News Editor at Red Pepper newspaper in Kampala, Uganda, told this journalist that the East African country is also experiencing what Ghana is going through.
He explained that after the discovery of oil in commercial quantities in Hoima, in Midwestern Uganda, which is about 225km from the Ugandan capital, Kampala, many prostitutes had invaded the area to swim in the oil wealth.
A Takoradi-based civil society organisation worker, Kwamena Boadu collaborated that some experienced professional sex-workers who had traded in the mineral-deposit areas like Dunkwa, Obuasi, and other mineral-deposit areas in the Brong Ahafo and Western regions are turning their attention on the twin-city.
With the 'black gold' discovery, these prostitutes find Sekondi-Takoradi, Dixcove, Princess Town and Agona Nkwanta among others as havens to cash in on the ungodly business.
The other economic fortunes put aside, the oil business has surely changed the prostitution trade in Sekondi-Takoradi. 'About two decades ago, prostitution was not such a big deal in the twin-city", Mr. Boadu stated.
But some prostitutes who conduct their trade around the Vienna City, a popular hot spot in Takoradi, said for them the oil find is more of a blessing than a curse.
Patience Love, 34, and a Secondary School graduate who has been in the 'night trade' for over eight years, said she is only interested in the expatriates and not the 'blacks'.
According to her: "The expatriates pay in dollars. Now with the depreciation of the cedi if I get any small dollar when I change to the cedi, I get more money".
Sister Efua, 25, who has been a prostitute for the past five years migrated to Takoradi and stationed at the Vienna City spot area two years ago, told the newspaper that she has a small room from which she operates daily.
Efua stated:'On average I get three to six clients per day; although I can take on more if I still have the energy or when the money on offer is too good to resist.'
Sex at the Vienna City spot, the newspaper was told, cost between GH¢10 to GH¢ 100 for short-time for the locals. This figure shoots to as much as GH¢100 to GH¢500 for the expatriates, Janet Arhin, another 'queen of the night' said.
Unfortunately, the 'thigh trade' is booming at the time when Ghana's HIV Prevalence rate hit 1.37%, the Sentinel Survey (HSS) and National Prevalence and Estimate report for 2012 has revealed.
The Western Region, which hosts Ghana's oil deposit, recorded 2.4% HIV Prevalence rate higher than the national rate in 2012.
ANOTHER LOOMING DANGER!
Another disturbing issue being complained about by the communities in the Jomoro District Assembly and the Shama Ahanta East Metropolis, which are close to the Jubilee field oil activities, is the flaring of associated national gas.
Adding their voice to that of the communities, anti-gas flaring activists have warned that apart from the environmental and human health implications, Ghana would lose millions of dollars as a result of gas flaring.
This follows the Ghanaian government's decision to allow Jubilee partners to flare gas from the Jubilee Field to save the oil wells from collapsing.
The Jubilee partners - Tullow Plc, Kosmos, Anadarko, PetroSA and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) were given approval to flare gas in late May this year, which is against the country's 'No Flaring Policy'.
The Head of Public Affairs of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Angelina Mensah, whose agency and the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum approved the flaring insisted that they took the decision in the interest of the economy.
The Managing Director of Tullow Oil Ghana Limited, Charles Darku, said that production at the Jubilee Field had been reduced by almost 5,000 barrels every day because of their inability to flare the natural gas.
The Tullow Oil Ghana, which is the unit operator of Jubilee Field and its partners are permitted to flare 500 Million Standard Cubic Feet (MMSCF) of gas per month until the end of October 2014.
However, the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), a leading energy think-tank argued that much of this gas which is to be flared could be converted for domestic use and for electricity generation purposes.
This is because the country is faced with power generation shortage, so there was no excuse to flare Jubilee field gas in the first place, according opponents.
A Senior Energy Policy Manager at ACEP, Nasir Alfa Mohammed added: 'By so doing the level of electricity generation in the country could be raised closer to meeting national demand.
This brings to the fore the importance of hastening the completion of the Western Corridor Gas Infrastructure Development Project to manage the gas to the benefit of Ghana rather than flaring the gas'.
In ACEP's recent report on gas development in Ghana, it expressed disgust at the delay in the completion of the Gas Infrastructure Project popularly known as Atuabo Gas plant being constructed by SINOPEC, a Chinese firm.
The flaring of gas is yet another cost Ghana and Ghanaians have to suffer as a result of our indecision as a country which has led to the delay in the completion of the Atuabo Gas project,' the report said.
Mr. Alfa Mohammed and his crusaders at ACEP therefore strongly condemned the decision by Ghanaian government to allow the flaring of gas as they believe that enough due diligence was not done; and that the decision was largely influenced by financial consideration rather than the welfare of the people.
In the meantime, they recommended that the approval for flaring was effected, the process should be well monitored and the Jubilee partners must be compelled to disclose the volumes of gas flared on daily basis.
Effects of Flaring Gas
Ghana's renowned oil economist, Dr. Mohammed Amin Adam had warned that any decision by the government to allow the Jubilee partners to flare gas would risk the lives of several Ghanaians, fish, and other marine lives.
'When the gas is flared into the air, it comes back as acid rain which runs into water bodies, farmlands and crops. If fishes take in the polluted water and are subsequently eaten by human beings, their health would be at risk,' he noted.
According to him, people could get dreadful skin diseases as a result of their exposure to the flared gas. 'Some people can also get eye disease, especially itchy eyes. So whatever the quantity you flare, it is bad.'
Dr. Amin Adam, who is also the Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) stated.
A review of extant literature which draws more light on the effects of gas flaring has shown that the potential exposure of hazardous air pollutants that are emitted during incomplete combustion of gas flare could result in adverse health impacts such as cancer, deformities in children, lung damage, skin problems, and neurological, reproductive and developmental effects in surrounding communities.
Effects on Environment
Gas flaring will contribute significantly to greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. This will contribute to climate change, which will have serious implications for both Ghana and the rest of the world. As is the case in Nigeria, gas flaring could also result in acid rains which could have adverse environmental impacts.
For example, it has been reported that corrugated roofs in the Niger Delta State of Nigeria have been corroded by the composition of the rain that falls as a result of flaring.
The primary causes of acid rain are emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides which combine with atmospheric moisture to form sulphuric acid and nitric acid respectively.
Acid rain acidifies lakes and streams and damages vegetation. In addition, it accelerates the decay of building materials and paints.
The flares associated with gas flaring could contaminate the atmosphere with resultant environmental harm.
Science has proven that atmospheric contaminants resulting from gas flaring such as oxides of Nitrogen, Carbon and Sulphur, particulate matter, hydrocarbons and ash, photochemical oxidants, and hydrogen sulphide could acidify the soil and deplete soil nutrient, hence reducing the nutritional value of crops within such vicinity.
It has also been established that the tremendous heat that is produced and the acid nature of soil pH in gas flaring could result in no vegetation in the areas surrounding the flare. This could affect agriculture - which is the mainstay of Ghana's economy.
To be continued........