Date: July 11, 2009, 7:46 am


CONCERNS OF WESTERN REGION ON THE OIL FIND – MARCH 2009


 ....DEAR FRIENDS AND PARTNERS 

Background

 

Oil has been found in commercial quantities offshore in Ghana and consultations are underway for a national oil and gas policy to be formulated. The NPP Government initiated processes to develop a “National Oil and Gas Policy and came out with a draft oil and gas policy. However, the consultative processes were flawed by limited civil society input due to the exclusion of key stakeholders and the deficiency of knowledge on the oil industry.

 

There is a huge dearth of public information and knowledge about oil exploration processes, oil revenue sharing streams, the local content and likely socio-environmental impacts. This poses a great challenge for the meaningful participation of civil society especially, the host communities in the dialogue processes.

 

In this respect Friends of the Nation (FoN) with the support of Publish What You Pay (PWYP) initiated District sensitization durbar on the oil industry.

This initiative was aimed at education and sensitization on socio-environmental and economic issues as well as EITI in the would-be-affected communities in four coastal districts of the Western region to enhance civil society’s meaningful participation in processes to develop Ghana’s oil and gas industry.

 

Four durbars were organized in SIX districts specifically, Jomoro, Nzema East, STMA, Ellembele, Shama and Ahanta West districts; the objectives of the durbars were;

   

1.    To sensitize on the oil revenue streams, contracting and licencing and what is best to boost the local economy.

2.    To contribute to improved knowledge on the socio-environmental impacts of oil and gas exploitation.

3.    To contribute to the enhancement of the rural livelihoods in the host communities through effective development of the local content.

4.    To capture the concerns, perceptions and expectations of host communities on the oil find.

find attached the presentations

 

Details of district durbars

In all, four (4) durbars were held between the 11th and 19th February, 2009, specifically;

1.       Half-Assini (Jomoro District Assembly), on 11th February

2.       Axim (Nzema-East Municipal & Ellembelle District Assemblies), on 13th February

3.       Takoradi (Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan & Shama District Assemblies) on 17th February; and

4.       Agona-Ahanta (Ahanta-West District Assembly) on 19th February respectively.

  Participants were asked the question, “what is on your mind about this oil find in western region  The answers given were in the concerns, perception, believes, fears, questions and suggestion.

Below are some of the concerns raised, however they were capture in the raw form so as to paint the actual picture on the ground.

PERCEPTIONS & BELIEVES

1.      Oil could be a blessing or a curse depending on how we manage it.

2.      Oil will bring the nation money and the citizens will be better-off economically.

3.      There will be pressure on local infrastructure and, accommodation cost may go up.

4.      Population increase in oil-communities will result in higher crime rate.

5.      Profits will be shared fairly so “Niger Delta experience�? will not be repeated in Ghana.

6.      Government will take adequate care of all stakeholders (especially those whose livelihoods will be directly affected like fisherfolks) therefore there will be no trouble.

7.      We should note that fishing and agriculture are usually the first casualties of oil and mining activities.

8.      Mitigation measures will be adequate and commensurate to livelihoods lost.

9.      There will be adequate consultation with Fisherfolks.

10.   There will be generation of employment especially for the youth.

11.   There will be no nepotism but competence will be used for recruiting and participation in the oil industry.

12.   Sexual promiscuity will increase (unwanted pregnancies, infidelity and family break-ups).

13.   There will be an upsurge in crime.

14.   There would be human rights abuse and social injustice.

15.   High cost of living.

16.   There would be impediment on fishing activities because of oil exploitations.

17.   People would be displaced from their communities by the oil activities.

 QUESTIONS & CONCERNS

1.    Will Ghana as a nation have a strong bargaining stand to stand foot-to-foot with the Oil Companies as we do not have the financial strength of the letter?

2.    Why should foreign investors take the greater share of profits from oil drilling?

3.    How will the sale and distribution of oil and oil-products be done so as to benefit local people?

4.    Which people are going to be involved in oil drilling?

5.     How will the people of the locality be protected from illnesses that come as a result of environmental pollution?

6.    How do impoverished local communities (i.e host communities) benefit from (within) the framework of a local content?

7.    How do we sanitize NGOs/CSOs from giving “unhealthy�? information thereby leading to resentment in the local communities against oil companies?

8.    How do we prevent oil bunkering activities?

9.    What mitigating measures will be in place to avert gas flaring?

10. How will those affected by oil production be compensated (eg fishermen, host communities of the oil production activity)?

11. Who will be the bonafide leader(s) of the communities (people)?

12. Can the communities insist on provision of alternative livelihood programmes if their work is negatively affected?

13. What security measures are being put in place against dangerous activities by saboteurs (like oil bunkering)?

14. What is the government’s position on gas flaring as it is not clear in the NDC manifesto?

15. Can Ghana stop buying gas from Nigeria in the West Africa Gas Pipeline Project as we would have gas now?

16. As fisherfolks, the oil business will definitely spoil our work. Can we therefore request that it is stopped?

17. How do we ordinary people at the community level ensure transparency?

18. If we fishermen are prevented from going to fish in some places, what do we eat (as we have learnt that conditions that the oil and gas create under the sea are naturally attractive to fish)?

19. With our culture as a background, how do we at the grassroots ensure transparency knowing we as a people are not brought up to question those in authority?

20. Where exactly is the oil located in the sea (in relation to communities on land).

21. How true is the information that the oilfields has been sold?

22. Why did the government not include the oil in the EITI programme?

23. By law, everything discovered beneath the surface of the earth belongs to the government. Do the host communities have any right to any square in the proceeds from the sale of the crude oil (and any other mineral)?

24. What alternative would be in place should fishing activities ground to a halt?

25. Are Nananom (chiefs) not involved in compensation determination as well as payment? Whatever the case, Traditional Authorities should not be scandalised whilst the right thing is done.

26. What watchdog roles are NGOs/CSOs playing to ensure that local economies do not lose out?

27. If oil is found in commercial quantities on land, how will it be drilled

28. Will women and children also benefit from the oil-find?

29. How can we access a copy of the EIA prepared by EPA?

30. Can the Friends of the Nation (or other NGOs) and our traditional leaders help us get them?

31.   What will be the effect of the exploration on the vegetation on land

32.   How will chemical and other waste materials during exploration and production be treated?

   COMMENTS, CONTRIBUTIONS & SUGESTIONS

1.    Government should administer transparent policies in the oil communities so that poverty is alleviated.

2.    EIAs when made should be made accessible to everyone and there must be a simplified version so that the common grassroots person could read and understand. 

3.    As a nation, we all want the oil-find to be a blessing to Ghana. The right structures should be put in place so that the benefits are maximised.

4.    MPs should be prevailed upon by Traditional Authorities to avail themselves for sensitization and awareness creation programmes on the oil-find so that they can make meaningful contributions on our behalf during policy-making and other important discussions. (They should eschew the habit being conspicuous only during elections).

5.   

comments powered by Disqus