An Energy Expert fears, Ghana risks having a Niger Delta situation if the best options are not deployed in the exploration of the onshore oil resources in the Voltarian Basin.
Kwame Jantuah wants government to ensure that while partners benefit from their investments, Ghanaians, especially those around the Voltarian Basin where the onshore oil will be explored, do not lose out.
Speaking Thursday at IMANI Africa’s Oil Summit, the CEO of African Energy Consortium Ltd said while Ghana faces a challenge with expertise in the oil and gas industry, a greater problem may rear its head in the Voltarian Basin if care is not taken.
“The bigger challenge is going to be on the Voltarian Basin because people live on the land, people’s inheritance [is] on the land and you ask yourself when you find oil on a cocoa farm, which one do you do first? Do you cut down the trees and exploit the oil or do you say ‘no let’s keep it and do agriculture’?
“If we do not begin to map out the Voltarian Basin when we start producing oil, we would end up like the Delta region in Nigeria,” he added.
Militant attacks in the Niger Delta have severely disrupted oil production, fuelling a recession in the country’s economy.
The militants have been demanding that the government spend more of its oil wealth on tackling widespread poverty in a region, known as the Niger Delta.
The Volta Basin
They also accuse multinational firms of polluting the environment, destroying the livelihoods of farming and fishing communities.
Mr Jantuah fears a similar situation may occur in Ghana with the Voltarian Basin.
The Basin accounts for more than 40% of Ghana’s land mass which stretches from the Eastern, Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Northern and Volta regions.
The Basin is divided into three, the Upper Voltarian comprises massive and thinly bedded sandstones with some shales. The Middle Voltarian, also comprises sandstones with limestone intercalations (Upper Greenish-Grey Series), shales with limestone intercalations, siltstones, silty sandstones (Variegated Series) and conglomerates whilst the Lower Voltarian, comprises sandstones, shales and siltstones (Lower Greenish-Grey Series) and quartz sandstone (Basal Sandstone Series).
Exploration and production license was awarded to Swiss African Oil Company, a subsidiary of Swiss African Petroleum AG for the new block.
The deal which was a joint venture between Government, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, Swiss African Oil Company Limited and PET Volta Investments, makes it the first onshore oil exploration deal in the country.
The Energy Expert hopes that Ghana will not end up making the Voltarian Basin exploration like the others, leaving Ghanaians questioning the benefits the discovery of oil has for them.
“For me, I hope that all of us will not just incite, but try as much as possible to work together so that we benefit, our investors benefit and at least we can build this country to a certain point.”
Generations to come, in his view, will blame this current one for not taking care of the natural resources in the country.
“Please oil and gas companies think of us too, don’t only think that you are going to make 30 billion and that’s it. Because as we are able to earn revenue from our natural resources, it also helps you not to be throwing your taxpayers money at us…help us to help ourselves and let’s all be able to build this nation because it is the only country we have.”