MUD SPILLAGE FROM THE KOSMOS ENERGY OPERATIONS AND THE URGENCY OF PETROLEUM REGULATORY AUTHORITY BILL
The National Platform of Civil Society in Oil and Gas is very disturbed that following the mud spillage in December 2009, Kosmos Energy has again spilled about 600 barrels of low toxicity oil-based mud into Ghanaian waters during its exploratory operations contrary to environmental regulations.
This is coming after the devastation caused by the massive spillage of oil by British Petroleum (BP) in the United States which continues to cause environmental disaster and adversely affecting the livelihoods of communities along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. As an emerging industry, we cannot be saddled at the onset with such challenges and difficulties that require technologies and financial capital, the magnitude of which we do not have.
The spillage by Kosmos Energy against Ghanaian and international regulations, including a violation of section 92 of the Fisheries Act (625) 2002 is a prelude to the possible dangers that the industry poses to the future of the country if we are not able to enforce regulatory rules.
This has occurred against the background of the unfortunate delay by government to present a draft Petroleum Regulatory Authority Bill to the public for debate to allow Ghanaians to scrutinize the regulatory regime that would be applied to upstream operations.
We know there are existing regulations and institutions governing petroleum exploration and production, including PNDC Laws 64 and 84(even though GNPC does not have the mandate to do regulation); but for Kosmos to spill mud six times in a year and the inability of regulatory institutions to anticipate and prevent such spills demonstrates the weaknesses in the existing regulatory regime. This brings to the fore the need for a more comprehensive regulatory law which would be relevant to the entire oil and gas value chain.
We call on government as a matter of urgency to publish the draft Petroleum Regulatory Authority Bill for public debate. We also urge the government to scrutinize the spill mitigation and field development plans of all petroleum operators.
While we laud the Ministry of Environmental Science and Technology for setting up a committee to determine appropriate sanctions against Kosmos Energy, we equally observe with worry the tendency of always waiting for the damage happen before taking action. Sanctions do not mitigate the negative effects of spillages. The National Platform of Civil Society in Oil and Gas therefore demands strong, holistic and preventive regulations and institutions to monitor the operations of the oil companies to avert future occurrences of spills which may have dire consequences on marine and human life.
Much as we know that the country needs petroleum revenues for development financing, this should not compromise our resolve to protect our environment and livelihoods. Government must actively and seriously engage with all stakeholders; including the civil society platform and community-based organizations in the oil districts to set up the necessary structures to monitor and protect the economic, environmental and social demands of our nation.
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