CSOs step up efforts to monitor bidding process for oil blocs

BY: By Jessica Acheampong
Mr Ben Boakye —Executive Director, ACEP
Mr Ben Boakye —Executive Director, ACEP

The Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Mr Ben Boakye, has reiterated the need for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to keep an eye on the whole process for the two oil blocks to be given out through direct negotiations.

 He said although no reasons have been given for the decision to give out the blocks through direct negotiations, it was important for CSOs to closely monitor the process to ensure that specific companies are not just pinpointed to take up the blocks.

“What reasons have been given for putting specific blocks up for direct negotiation? It is an important thing for us to track to ensure that we can avoid some specific companies been pinpointed to come and take up specific blocks,” he said at a one- day’s workshop for CSO’s organised by the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) and the Ghana Oil and Gas for Inclusive Growth (GOGIG).

Mr Boakye also explained that it was not clear what the process would be like if more than one company expressed interest to take any of the blocks up for direct negotiations, and that ,however, provided the opportunity for CSOs to monitor that space.

“What is not clear at this point is that no company has been mentioned as of now, so if there is more than one company applying, will the minister resort to competitive tendering?

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“These are the things we must engage around to ensure that this does not become the default mechanism for awarding petroleum blocks, but rather the competitive tendering process,” he said.

He added that it appeared the government was employing a mix of all the provisions under the law in awarding oil blocks at the same time and CSOs must also take keen interest and monitor the process under each provision.

“We have set some blocks aside for direct negotiation, some for competitive tender and one for the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC). These are rooms in the law and it is like we have agreed to apply all of them at the same time,” he said.

Rethink model

The Executive Director of the Centre for Extractive and Development Africa (CEDA), Mr Emmanuel Kuyole said although it was important to open up the space for Indigenous Ghanaian Companies (IGCs) to participate in the upstream sector, there is the need to review the model to see whether the country was achieving its objectives.

He explained that with limited source of funding, technical capacity and access to technology, most IGCs will struggle in engaging the upstream sector, and it was ,therefore, important to advocate for a critical review of the current model for IGC participation.

“It is in the law, but I think that as part of our CSOs activism, we need to interrogate that model and see if it is not working. We are in support of IGC participation, but we need to begin to engage for a rethink of a new model.

If the thing is not working and it will not lead us to achieve the objective, we as a country can relook at that structure,” he said.