Four new fighter vessels have been acquired for the Ghana Navy to enhance their capacity to protect the country’s maritime domain, including offshore oil and gas installations.
Known as Flex-fighter Boats, the security vessels, which are expected to arrive in the country on Saturday, will boost efforts at making Ghana’s maritime space safer and unattractive to pirates and other illegal activities.
The vessels, which will be manned by Naval captains with international ratings, are equipped with the needed logistics to protect national installations and deter and make the country’s adjoining coast safer.
The Chief Executive of the Petroleum Commission, Mr Egbert Faibille, who announced this during the commission's interaction with the Western Regional House of Chiefs in Sekondi, explained that the acquisition of the vessels was part of the agenda of the government to equip the Ghana Navy to provide security for offshore petroleum installations and other national assets.
The meeting, which is an annual affair, was used to update members of the house on happenings in the petroleum industry.
Mr Faibille briefed the chiefs on Ghana’s upstream sector, offshore petroleum security issues, community relations and social investment, health, safety and environment, as well as the government’s skills development programmes being facilitated by the commission.
The chiefs were also sensitised to the review of relevant laws and the development of new ones to deal with emerging challenges, among other matters.
As part of efforts at ensuring improved social harmony and also managing perceptions and expectations of communities with the resources, Mr Faibille said the commission was collaborating with the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council (GNCFC) to embark on sensitisation programmes at selected landing beaches in the four coastal regions of the country.
He said the commission would consider feedbacks from the fishing communities, including their concerns pertaining to fishing, vis-a-vis the oil and gas industry.
The Western Regional House of Chiefs commended the commission for holding oil industry players to account to ensure that the Ghana derived maximum benefit from upstream oil and gas activities.
The Paramount Chief of the Essikado Traditional Area, Nana Kobina Nketsia V, urged the commission to ensure industrial harmony through regular engagement with stakeholders.
According to him, local content remained the most important part of oil and gas activities in the country and emphasised the need for more local workers and companies in the sector.
Oil companies have been hiring private boats to provide security for their offshore oil and gas installations.
A source at the Ministry of Defence, however, told the Daily Graphic that henceforth, Ghana Navy ships would be the only vessels allowed to protect offshore oil and gas activities in the country.
The source described the current arrangement where oil companies hired civilian commercial boats flying their countries’ flags with state armed guards as unfortunate and said the practice would now be a thing of the past.
There have been growing piracy and other criminal activities in the Gulf of Guinea in recent times.
As a deterrent measure, the Navy has been carrying out maritime exercises to demonstrate its resolve to deal with issues of piracy, illegal fishing, smuggling and other criminal activities in Ghana’s territorial waters.