The Africa Center for Energy Policy, a policy think-tank, has accused the Mines and Energy Committee in Parliament of handing over oil blocks to inexperienced oil companies without due diligence.
The center is also questioning the haste with which parliament approved two new oil contracts for the shallow water Tano block with government, the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and Camac Energy Ghana Limited last week under certificate of urgency.
The Director of Programmes at the center, Benjamin Boakye tells Joy News the approval by parliament defies constitutional logic and therefore has huge implications for the country.
"Secretly, deals are being signed and parliament circumvented its own rules and allowed some of these agreements to go through.
"As far as oil blocks are concerned, if you don't have oil gashing out of the ground, what is the urgency about giving a [oil] block to somebody.
"We want to have an explanation as to why giving an oil block out will be given under a certificate of emergency for parliament to rush it through. No citizen knew about it, nobody has heard about it. Or is it not important for us to know how we give out blocks in this country", the center's Director of Programmes observed.
According to Mr. Boakye, a new law is being set up that will allow for transparent mechanisms, when applying for oil blocks in the country.
The law, he noted, will indicate the companies that are awarded the oil blocks, which is done through competitive bidding.
"So, why are we secretly giving out oil blocks at this point", he questioned.
However, the chairman of Mines and Energy committee in Parliament , Dr. Kwabena Donkor dismissed the allegations of not doing due diligence on the companies insisting that the country’s interest is very well protected in the contract.
"I heard people under-estimating the intelligence of members of parliament, our technical competence and capabilities and impugning all sorts of motives.
These documents spent nearly a month with two new agreements. It is clearly stated that the contractor or a party in dispute cannot attach the property of GNPC or government of Ghana until the termination of an arbitration panel" he stated.
Dr. Kwabena Donkor indicated that the new agreements come with a major legal improvement, where royalties on crude and gas have gone up.
"Agreement is a vast improvement of that of the existing ones. why should we spend six months sitting on one agreement", he queried.
The chairman of Mines and Energy committee further denied that the partners of the companies that signed the agreement are unknown, stressing that the committee had asked for the local content partners, which was provided, when members met officials of GNPC and the Ministry led by the deputy minister.
Dr. Kwabena Donkor said during their meeting, documents were submitted including documents from the Registrar General, which are all on file.
"Must we announced to the public even before we present to Parliament?", he questioned.