The Chief Executive of the Petroleum Commission, Egbert Fabille, has called for a peaceful coexistence between the Upstream Petroleum Industry, the fisheries sector and other users of the marine space in a bid to promote economic growth.
He believes, this can be achieved through the implementation of the Safe Sea Access Framework aimed at helping to coordinate business and economic activities among stakeholders.
Egbert Fabille made this known yesterday at a day’s workshop organised by the Petroleum Commission for industry operators and stakeholders to discuss ways of ensuring a successful implementation of the Safe Sea Access Framework
The workshop was aimed at reach consensus on the roadmap for the implementation of the Safe Sea Access Framework, agreeing on the implementation of the Influx Management Plan, funding for the implementation of the Safe Sea Access Framework and how to fund the operation of the Cumulative Impact Management Secretariat.
Implementation of the Safe Sea Access Framework will lead reducing the usual conflict between fishermen and the Navy and the oil exploration companies, ensure the tracking of boats and canoes with tracking systems for easy identification and tracking , licensing of canoes and registration of fishermen , providing insurance packages for fishermen and strict enforcement against illegal practices.
Giving a keynote address at the workshop, Mr Fabille said Ghana’s hydrocarbon exploration, development and production which have been mainly offshore intensified with about 18 acreages awarded to 16 companies faces a key challenge of frequent and increasing incursions into the Advisory and Exclusion Zones by fishermen.
‘Indeed, over 32,000 incursions have been recorded over a last five (5) year period. These breaches do not only place fishermen in grave danger but unnecessarily put critical offshore facilities and infrastructure at risk. ;;
‘’The Safe Sea Access Framework (SSAF) was borne out of a study which forms part of the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MFAC)’s Action Plans to ensure strategic co-existence of oil and gas and fisheries sectors. The MFAC was set up by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development in July 2015 and is composed of stakeholders from government regulators, security agencies, civil society organizations and industry players in both sectors.
The study was commissioned with the objective of finding solutions and recommendations for strategies that could potentially reduce further encroachment of fishermen into the advisory and exclusive zones in the Oil and Gas operational areas.
Mr Fabille noted that the final report of the SSAF Report has been submitted to the Petroleum Commission after Stakeholder consultations two years ago in Takoradi in order that the Commission leads in an industry-wide approach to implementing the recommendations therein.
According to him the Ministry of Energyin collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Development Planning Commission carried out Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of Ghana’s offshore Oil and Gas sector between 2009 and 2012. Management of cumulative effects in the project areas of influence is one of the concerns identified by SEA. Indeed, many of the potential solutions to the assessed impacts of oil and gas projects are known. What is lacking is implementation and the absence of a mechanism for coordinated action by private and public sector entities. Reports have indicated that efforts to engage upstream companies, local authorities, government agencies, and other stakeholders in designing coherent management strategies to mitigate cumulative impacts have achieved limited success.
‘’In this regard, in 2017 the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group (WBG) in collaboration with key stakeholders played a convening and advisory role in the identification and implementation of mechanisms and strategies for managing cumulative effects associated with multiple oil and gas projects in the Western region by focusing on the highest risk issues.’’