With Discovery Of Crude Oil….KT Hammond Concedes
By Gifty Arthur
A former Deputy Minister for Energy, Kwabena Tahir Hammond, has accepted responsibility for overly raising the expectations of Ghanaians, following the struck of crude oil in commercial quantity during the John Kufuor administration.
He conceded that the expectations of citizens, were also not managed properly, and mentioned himself as one of the government officials who went round the country, raising hopes of the people that their standard of living were going to change and improve miraculously with the oil money.
The ex-Deputy Energy Minister, was supporting the position of a former official of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), Ishmael Ed Jekumhene, that hopes were exaggerated, although he personally did not expect much from the resources.
Despite over bloating expectations, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Adansi in the Ashanti Region, insisted that some good things happened under the Kufuor regime with respect to the oil find, and warned that he would take people on should they sought to criticize the Kufuor administration over oil contracts signed during that period.
KT Hammond, as he is affectionately called, explained that the Kufuor government could not sign the best contracts at the time, because popular oil companies did not want to engage Ghana, having described the country’s quest to find oil as a “hopeless” situation.
The former Deputy Minister and the Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Mohammed Amin Adam, applauded government for improving upon allocation of contracts for oil blocks in recent past.
The event was a live debate programme on Ghana’s oil industry, last Wednesday.
Panelists on the show, held at the Best Western Premier Hotel in Accra, agreed that compared to contracts signed during the John Kufuor administration, current government has signed better deals for Ghana.
Contributing to the show, “Platform” a TV3 flagship programme themed, “Ghana’s Economy-Four Years After Oil Production”, the ACEP boss, Mohammed Amin Adam, noted that there have been improvements in the allocation of oil blocks under the Mahama government.
Mr. Adam’s admission was backed by Mr. KT Hammond, adding that the Kufuor government at the time, needed to give the best offer to these companies to enable them engage Ghana in exploring the possibility of oil in commercial quantities.
The Minister for Energy, Emmanuel Amarh Kofi Boah and a Deputy Minister for Finance, Mona Quartey, together with some other industry players, were invited to serve as panelists to the discussion of Ghana’s oil find four years on, but few minutes before the commencement of the show, information was communicated to the organizers, TV3, government’s inability to participate in the programme.
Though the communication did not explain why the government appointees could not make it, other panelists namely, Mr. Adam, President of IMANI, Franklin Cudjoe, Mr. Jekumhene, and Lawyer and Petroleum Policy Analyst, Dr. Thomas K Stephensons, asked for transparency in the sector.
Mr. Cudjoe, expressed disappointment on how “unaccountable” government has been with respect to oil moneys.
Mr. Adam, was equally disappointed that after learning the good, the bad and the ugly from many countries across the world and also gaining almost nothing from solid minerals especially gold, Ghana seems not to be on the right path, four years after production.
Though he admitted that it was still early days yet, he warned that, “There are signs that in 10 years, we won’t be happy that we discovered oil”.
The ACEP boss said, it would be important for the country to work on laws covering exploration, raising objection to the current practice where, the minister is permitted to give oil blocks to companies, but details of such entities are very difficult to come by.
A former Deputy Northern Regional Minister in the Kufuor administration, also questioned why companies without experience in oil exploration are given blocks and asked authorities to ensure that there was open and competitiveness in contracts, and also called for publications of these contracts.
Lawyer Stephensons, said there was still problems with licensing, as he did not understand why, contracts are given secretly. “The way and manner it is done, it is shredded in secrecy” he said, adding although the Petroleum Management Law is a very good law except that there were few flaws in it.
But the Chief Executive of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), Moses Aduku Asaga, disagreed with Dr. Stephensons, saying, “Every petroleum agreement goes to Parliament”. However, he supported earlier suggestions that there should be “open bidding” system to enhance transparency and trust.
The former MP for Nabdam in the Upper East Region, agreed with Mr. Jekumhene, the Executive Director of KITE, who in his opening remarks noted that the expectations of the citizenry on the oil find in 2007 were not managed well.
Mr. Jekumhene, was not happy that Ghana has tried almost in every situation to solve the nation’s problem with the oil find, which is not much anyway. He called for the right laws and policies to better the situation, instead of the blame game.
He advocated for resources and funds for PIAC, a statutory organization set up to monitor and independently examine government’s management of the oil and gas revenues to perform it mandate.
A former Minister for Energy, Kofi Adda, blasted the Mahama government for refusing to send the Exploration Bill to Parliament years after they (NPP) initiated it drafting. However, Mr. Hammond educated his former boss that, the bill was already in Parliament, revealing that it has in actual fact been looked at not less than three times.
The MP, cautioned civil society groups to be circumspect when commenting on issues in the sector and refuted submission by Dr. Stephensons that, when it comes to petroleum agreement, “Certificates of Agency” are issued in Parliament for smooth passage.
While patting the Ghana National Petroleum Cooperation (GNPC) led by Tsatsu Tsikata on it back, Mr. Adda questioned the appropriateness of the Cooperation to side step its core mandate by venturing into non-core businesses, which included the production of salt?
But yet again, Mr. Adda was given an appropriate answer by Mr. Asaga who said, it wasn’t unusual citing Volta River Authority (VRA) and Goldfields Ghana, who once upon a time ventured into different businesses aside their core task.
Present were former Deputy Finance Minister in the Kufuor government and MP for Tafo, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, former Trades Minister, John Kwadwo Alan Kyerematen, NPP General Secretary, Kwabena Agyapong, Women Organizer of the NPP, Otico Djaba, Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), and General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, Rev. Dr. Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong.