Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ghana oil begins pumping for first time

Source: BBC

Ghana's offshore oil fields are estimated
to contain about 3bn barrels
The West African nation of Ghana has begun to pump its first commercial oil after the discovery of the offshore Jubilee Field three years ago.

President John Atta Mills turned on the valve at an offshore platform.

A consortium led by UK-based Tullow Oil hopes to produce 55,000 barrels per day, increasing to 120,000 barrels in six months.

Ghana, one of Africa's most stable countries, is expected to earn $400m (£254m) in the first year.

Wearing safety gear and blue overalls, the president opened the valve in a televised ceremony some 60km (40 miles) off the coast from the town of Takoradi, Reuters news agency reports.

The discovery of oil off Ghana's coast has raised questions about whether Ghana can escape the "resource curse", where discoveries of valuable commodities fuel conflict and corruption instead of funding development.

“I've completed school but I've not found any work to do - I hope oil will help me to get a job”
Unemployed man in Accra
Will oil make a difference?

Analysts have raised concerns about the lack of laws to manage oil revenue and the lack of an independent regulator for the sector.
The government has said it is working to get an oil bill passed.

The government has forecast that the oil will boost Ghana's economic growth rate from 5% this year to as much as 12% next year.

Production is eventually expected to bring in $1bn a year.

The Jubilee Field is estimated to hold 1.5bn barrels of oil. A second offshore field was discovered in September that is believed to hold another 1.4bn barrels.

The fields are some of the largest oil deposits found in recent years.

Learning from mistakes

Observers say militant insurgency like that in nearby Nigeria's Niger Delta is unlikely as long as the government manages expectations.

"Transparency to population is very important," said Stephen Hayes, head of the Corporate Council on Africa - a group of some 180 mainly US firms that invest in Africa.

"They also have a fairly transparent society compared to other countries dealing in oil - so they've got a better opportunity to get it right," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa.

He says lessons can be learnt from others' mistakes and points out that Ghana's economy is more diversified than other oil-producing countries in Africa. It earns billions from cocoa and gold.

"The oil revenues expected only represents 6% of their economy - compare that to Nigeria where oil revenue represents 92% of the economy or Angola where it's almost 100%," he said.

"It indicates they won't be dependent on oil revenue... and are in a far better position to manage it more wisely."

The BBC's David Amanor in the capital, Accra, says there a positive mood about the pumping of the country's first oil - and plenty of advice about how the revenue should be spent.

"I'm very much excited because maybe that will be able to solve some of problems for us," a lottery-ticket seller said.

"The first area should be education, secondly agriculture and thirdly health."

Campaigners hope fishermen who may lose their livelihoods will be given other job opportunities Another man said the move was a blessing for him and the country.

"It's going to benefit me so I'm really excited. I've completed school but I've not found any work to do - I hope oil will help me to get a job."

Our reporter says Ghana also has a growing civil society community which is anxious to ensure environmental and development considerations are given a voice in the area where the oil is being bumped.

Campaigners hope fishermen
who may lose their livelihoods
will be given other
job opportunities
"A lot of the fishermen are now moving away because of the oil rig - they cannot fish within a certain parameter," says Adwoa Bame from the Women's Initiative for Self-Empowerment group.

"The men go out and bring the fish to the fishmongers, who are normally women," she told the BBC.

"So we need to look at how we can develop programmes that can sustain these communities in terms of livelihoods."


David Amanor
BBC News, Accra

It is a momentous day for Ghana - barely three years after that first vial of oil was presented to former President John Kufour.

Hopes are high, tempered by a fair amount of realism - most people seem to understand oil production is unlikely in itself to bring about lower fuel prices and that it will take time for real benefits to accrue.

The government is currently negotiating huge multi-billion dollar loans for infrastructure developments, using oil as collateral, which has met with some stiff opposition from the parliamentary minority and other civil society groups. "We've looked at the experiences of other countries and it has not been positive," says Mohammed Amin Adam of campaign group Publish What You Pay.

Other concerns are focussed on how the oil money is spent rather than when. "Politicians' decisions tend to be very short-term and short-sighted," says Kofi Bentil of Ghanaian think-tank Imani.

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Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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