By: Anthony Sedzro
Boakye Kyeremateng Agyarko, Ghana’s Minister responsible for Energy has revealed that the current Act that regulates the Petroleum Downstream sector needs to be reviewed to reflect the new realities of the industry.
According to the Energy Minster, the government wants to make Ghana the hub of refined oil in West Africa in a secure and safe manner but the current National Petroleum Authority (NPA) Act does not take the downstream sector of West Africa into consideration.
“The current NPA Act, 2005 (Act, 691), does not take into consideration the downstream petroleum sector’s transformation into a hub in the West African sub-region,” Boakye Agyarko said.
“Government, through the Ministry of Energy and regulator (NPA), is taking steps focused on transforming the downstream sector from its present state toward achieving government’s vision of making a hub for refined petroleum products in the West African sub-region, and this goal may require the passage of new legislation and/or amendment of the existing ones,” he noted.
He was speaking at a Downstream Colloquium organised by the NPA on the theme The Petroleum Downstream: Then, Now and the Future, at the Kempinski Gold Coast Hotel, Accra, on January 31.
The vision of the government, according to the Minister,is for Ghana to refine enough oil and gas for domestic consumption and for export.
He further disclosed that the NPA has been directed to review the cessation notice for petrol and diesel stations but not for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) stations.
Giving the Guest of Honour’s address on behalf of the Vice-President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, Yaw Osafo-Marfo, the Senior Minister, said of the entire petroleum sector, it is the downstream sector that can employ many Ghanaians. He said the sector has seen significant growth with an initial eight (8) Bulk Distribution Companies now numbering 40 and Oil Marketing Companies increasing from 82 to 142.
We need a private sector-friendly legislation for the downstream sector, Osafo-Marfo further said.
The legislation, according him, must not have hidden clauses. He also called for the avoidance of bureaucratic bottlenecks in granting licenses for new oil refineries.
It is the government’s objective to ensure that 50 percent of Ghanaians had access to safe and environmentally-friendly LPG for commercial, industrial and domestic use by the year 2020, Osafo-Marfo disclosed. In connection with this, a National Cylinder Redistribution programme was being fashioned out and will be rolled out soon.
In his opening remarks, Hassan Tampuli, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NPA, said the downstream sector has grown and contributed significantly to the growth and development of the economy. Over the past four years (2013-2016), the sector has contributed about GHc46 billion to the country’s GDP.
The NPA CEO said Ghana no longer consumes toxic fuel because the regulator has taken safety seriously in view of the many gas explosions that have taken place across the country. He said the NPA had carried out a safety risk assessment of 657 stations nationally and 59 of them were closed down due to their non-compliance with safety standards.
Going forward, and as part of the Cylinder Re-Circulation model, National LPG distribution centers will be established to allow customers exchange their empty cylinders for filled ones.
Hassan Tampuli said the Cylinder Re-Circulation programme aims at increasing the use of LPG by households.
“The relevant licenses will be issued and safety protocols will be keenly observed to ensure the safety of the good people of Ghana, while increasing access to LPG for domestic, commercial and industrial use from the current 25 percent level to 50 percent,” Tampuli assured.