Do we need more ‘Bookmen’ or Craftsmen for Ghana’s oil industry?
Ten years after commercial oil production and building reserves in Ghana, so-called “expatriate” oil workers are streaming into the country as file-openers, welder helpers, roustabouts, painters, errand managers (messengers), plumbers and scaffolding technicians.
Lessons abound the world over, of countries with a history of poorly managed and misapplied receipts from other natural resources ending up with populations that have unrealistic, often obtuse expectations from oil finds. In the case of Ghana, the maze of negotiations that often ended up as contracts to manage our gold, bauxite, manganese, cocoa, diamond, timber and marine resources in the past, have left Ghanaians with acute expectations from the oil we have been blessed with. And as always, we have learned no lessons from the malignant experiences of countries whose oil find turned out a ‘curse’, and appear to have chosen the slippery path when more desirable examples to better manage the oil avail us in Norway, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, among others. The country is happily exporting its crude with the establishment of an onshore gas processing plant, coupled with integrated oil activities with ENI, however we are obviously struggling to contain the ramping volumes of gas (with a proven reserve of more than five trillion cubic standard) from the three independent oil fields – the fat layers of the golden eggs that nourish the national purse.