The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) has called on the Ghana National Petroleum Commission (GNPC) to make determinations to decommission the Saltpond Oil Field (SOF) in the Mfantseman Municipality of the Central Region.
The Committee believes the move will reduce huge cost of skeletal staff maintaining the rig that had become an economic drain on the State.
Mr Noble Wadzah, Chairman of PIAC, a constitutionally mandated body with the oversight responsibility on the prudent use and accountability of oil revenues noted that “the continued use of oil revenues to cater for an idle field did not reflect judicious use of the resources.”
He made the appeal at a public forum on the management and use of Ghana’s petroleum revenues held at Cape Coast on Tuesday.
The forum assembled key stakeholders including; representatives of the Central Regional Coordinating Council, PIAC member institutions, traditional and religious leaders, media and the public.
Mr Wadzah explained that the SOF which was the nation’s oldest oil-producing field did not produce any more oil hence the need to decommission to reduce unwarranted expenditures.
He indicated that commissioning a rig came with careful planning and so GNPC with the consent of the Ministry of Energy had embarked on a two-phased programme to dismantle the premier oil-producing field in Ghana.
The first phase of bringing down the rig involved preparation of a comprehensive decommissioning plan, while the second phase would actually kick-start the decommissioning operation.
Operation of the SOF was halted in June 2010 by the GNPC when it started incurring operational cost from a field that was producing next to nothing from two of its archive wells of six wells originally sunk when the field was operating in the 70s.
The PIAC chairman added that it was not financially viable for the GNPC to continue to use oil revenue to cater for the cost of maintaining the offshore production platform ahead of plans to decommission it.
He explained that the payment of the emoluments of skeletal staff and the maintenance of the non-functional oil production facility was heavily draining the country’s oil revenues.
Mr. Nasir Alfa Mohammed, a member of PIAC bemoaned that notwithstanding the committee’s statutory mandate and commitments to ensure efficient, transparent and accountable management of petroleum revenues and investments, it lacked the legal wherewithal to prosecute people who misappropriated funds of Ghana’s oil revenue allocations.
Against this backdrop, he reiterated the need and support for PIAC to have prosecutorial powers to effectively and efficiently control the misappropriation of oil revenues.
The PIAC member recommended that Parliament empowered the committee and rendered their unqualified support to forestall any further misappropriation of oil revenue to spark rapid national development.
That, he observed would promote accountability from people who were not performing their roles.
He assured that the committee would continue to execute its mandate with high integrity and remain independent of governmental dictatorship on the oil revenue management.
The PIAC member representing the Ghana Bar Association reaffirmed the PIAC’s determination to engage the media and other key stakeholders to keep track of oil revenue disbursement as a means of promoting social auditing and accountability.
He urged the media and other strategic stakeholders to play their roles more effectively to ensure that oil revenues were better protected.
Osabarima Kwasi Atta II, Omanhen of Oguaa Traditional Area called for further engagements by PIAC to educate the public on their mandate and work towards galvanising support of all to prosecutorial powers