Stakeholders at a day’s forum at Adiembra have proposed the establishment of a Mitigation Fund for the six coastal districts in the Western Region. They said a portion of the petroleum revenues should be allocated to the Fund in order to minimize the social and environmental impact of the oil and gas industry.
The beneficiary districts comprise Shama, Sekondi-Takoradi, Ahanta West, Nzema East, Ellembelle and Jomoro. The forum organized by Friends of the Nation (FON), a Takoradi-based environmental NGO, under the Citizens Development Dialogue Forum, is held monthly to discuss pertinent issues affecting the Region.
The participants comprising assembly members, youth activists and women advocates, noted that since the discovery of oil and gas in commercial quantities in 2007, the six coastal districts have witnessed increased deaths of marine life, especially whales; restriction of fishermen from petroleum installations, and the creation of 500 metre exclusive zone around the Floating Production and Storage Offloading Vessel.
They said there has also been the destruction of fishing gears and canoes by supply vessels and an instance of oil pollution which occurred at Axim in 2011.
They said with the oil find the people in the Region had high expectations such as securing jobs, reduction in fuel prices from the pump, industrializing the local economy, improvements of livelihoods, food security as well as ensuring a fair share of petroleum revenues and participation by local enterprises in the sector.
However, they said, the hopes of many people in the six coastal districts have been dashed after five years of oil production since they have not experienced the aforementioned benefits.
Mr Solomon Kusi Ampofo, the Programmes Officer of FON in-charge of Extractives, said the residents in the frontline of oil and gas industry risk high repercussion in the event of any disaster and therefore the Mitigation Fund would alleviate the suffering of potential victims.
He said although various legislations were enacted to ensure prudent management of the oil and gas resources including the Petroleum Revenue and Management Act, ( Act 815) of 2011, the Petroleum (Exploration and Production Act) of 2016, the Local Content and Local Participation Regulations, 2013, (LI 2204), the Fund is necessary to safeguard the interest of those closer to the industry.
So far, about 7,000 jobs had been created by the sector, several contracts have been given to local businesses and GHC 3.208 billion accrued to the country through corporate taxes, participatory and carried interest, surface rentals and country’s share of barrels of oil produced on the Jubilee Field.