The upstream petroleum industry regulator, the Petroleum Commission (PC), has embarked on a strategic global trade mission to position the country's oil and gas sector on the global map to attract the needed investments and partnerships and enhance local content.
The move is in line with true Ghanaian equity ownership and representation in the industry.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Petroleum Commission, Mr Egbert Faibille, and the Deputy Minister of Energy in charge of Petroleum, Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, are leading the project to promote Ghana.
A trade mission, which will be held in Aberdeen from June 9, 2018 to June 16, 2018, in partnership with the UK/Ghana Chamber of Commerce (UK-GCC) and the Scottish Development International (SDI), is expected to create values through prudent and sustainable management of resources.
The purpose of the mission, the PC explained, would allow the indigenous industry players with valid PC registration permits to have one-on-one networking opportunities with Scottish businesses and learn some industry-related best practices for possible joint venture/strategic partnerships.
In many countries and for sustainability, local participation in the oil and gas industry is not limited to few job avenues for local people, drivers, cooks, roustabouts and other forms of administrative services to the sector.
Therefore, the true ownership of the industry requires strategic partnerships and scaling up the capacity of indigenous firms through policies that allow for the transfer of skills and healthy joint ventures.
In half a decade, the PC has demonstrated its commitment to safeguarding the upstream sector and has seen an appreciable interest and participation.
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Within these five years of its existence, the Commission has done a lot of foundational works to position indigenous companies within the space, hence the need to drive those synergies to start raking in benefits.
Mr Faibille said building on what had been done, the commission had realised that there was some level of disconnect between what the law said and the capacity on the ground to ensure that Ghanaians played major roles in the execution of contracts.
For some time now, he said, the Commission had realised with concern that the capacity of Ghanaian firms to partner foreign contractors to execute projects was non-existent.
The Commission has, therefore, put together the trade mission to market Ghana as an upstream oil and gas player as well as an investor-friendly destination within the sub-region.
Among the interactions at the trade mission, which has been highly patronised, he said, was to allow for partnerships or joint ventures and technical cooperation between Ghanaian companies and foreign partners.
“We expect that at the end of the trade mission in Aberdeen, various forms of agreements and arrangement for partnerships would be reached,” he said.
He said Ghana, through the Commission, would also present the scope of what was available in the country for the investor community in Europe to consider.
The trade mission, he said, would also expose the types of companies within the upstream sector to the world stage for those who were also looking for Ghanaian partners and how to position themselves to attract the right partners.
“We have greatly demystified the contracting processes and how contracts are awarded to enable the Ghanaian firms to get out there and engage healthy partnerships,” Mr Faibille said.
"The few Ghanaian companies which have built some appreciable competences also need the exposure to explore more opportunities for growth, and not limited to the supply of consumables.
“We want to see the policy on the technology transfer bringing in results where the engineering aspect of the upstream sector can see Ghanaian footprints within the space,” he said.
Within the West African sub-region, he said, the search for hydrocarbon remained attractive to investors looking at various available data to make an investment decision.
“Therefore, with improved capacities to position Ghanaian companies and over a period as we get things done right, indigenous firms can be the regional agents for world heavy players to launch into other parts of Africa,” Mr Faibille said.
The government, with the focus on the industry, also has in place accelerated oil and gas capacity programmes, which seek to ensure that the required skills in the industry are available.
These skills, under the accelerated programme, will not be limited to the industry in Ghana, as the indigenous skilled worker can be on the upstream platforms in the sub-region and the world stage.
“We seek to position indigenous companies in such a way that engineering and technical jobs will become accessible to Ghanaians through the partnerships that will have an element of technology transfer,” he said.
Healthy partnership, not fronting
Mr Faibille said the issues of indigenous firms fronting for foreign companies to fleece the country had been one of the challenges the Petroleum Commission faced as a regulator.
“However, we have initiated steps to prevent fronting in the upstream petroleum industry and made it unattractive to both local and foreign entities to engage in it,” he said.
The CEO said there would be an integrated platform so that those seeking to enter into partnership were made to go through statutory declaration.
That way, he said, companies found to have told an untruth under oath to the partners were made to face the implications.
Fronting, he said, has a revenue-leakage implication for the state, as well as blocks opportunities created under the local businesses, per the Local Content regulation.
Therefore, he said, the Commission was making fronting unattractive to companies interested in joint ventures.