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20.09.2005 General News

Draw up a credible roadmap for local gas market - Minister

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Accra, Sept. 20, GNA - Energy Minister, Professor Mike Oquaye on Tuesday urged stakeholders in the energy sector to evolve a credible roadmap for a domestic gas market for the country to enable it to maximize the benefits of the West African Gas Pipeline Project (WAGPP). Speaking at a workshop for stakeholders on development of a secondary gas market, Prof Oquaye said the potential of a natural gas in the country's development process was huge and offered significant opportunities for the expansion of the network to the hinterlands to explore mineral deposits.

Stakeholders would discuss a draft roadmap of activities such as licensing of local distribution companies, legal and regulatory framework necessary to facilitate the development of a secondary gas market in the country.

WAGP, which draws on the transmission of gas from Nigeria through Benin and Togo to Ghana, would enable the country to meet its increasing electricity requirements by substituting cheaper gas for crude oil in its thermal electricity generating facilities. The pipeline project is expected to be in commercial operation by December 2006.

Professor Oquaye stressed the need to establish a separate company to buy, blend, store, transport and sell gas in the local market. He said while the desire for foreign participation in the market could not be ruled out, stakeholders should, however, ensure that any selection plan for the Local Distribution Company was done based on a fair and transparent competitive process and a thorough business plan approved by the regulatory agencies.

He said the cardinal principle that should guide selection should be local involvement.

Prof Oquaye said the Government was prepared to shoulder some responsibilities to ensure that potential private local distribution companies (LDCs) were attracted to invest in the market. In this connection, he urged the stakeholders to discuss the merit of the Government's fiscal package to market participants both the LDC and the end-users.

He said the Government was determined to strengthen the capacity of regulatory institutions since their independence was important to boost investor confidence.

Mr Williams James, the Consultant on the project, urged Ghana to step up efforts to get the gas from Nigeria as other countries were also making plans to tap into it.

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