The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the University of Ghana, Legon, under which the GNPC will make available $1 million for the establishment of a research chair in Petroleum Geoscience at the university
Under the four-year agreement, the GNPC will support the research chair with $250,000 each year for capacity building for the petroleum industry.
Speaking at the signing ceremony at the University of Ghana yesterday, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GNPC, Dr Kofi Kodua Sarpong, explained that the establishment of the research chair was to foster cooperation between the university and industry.
The GNPC, he said, was supporting the study of Petroleum Commerce at the University of Cape Coast, Mining Engineering at the University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa and Petroleum Engineering at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
The GNPC, Dr Sarpong said, had commenced the construction of a $30-million state-of-the-art research and technology laboratory for the geosciences and other related subjects.
He expressed the hope that the facility would be ready by the end of the next two years, saying: “We don’t want it to be a white elephant and that is why we are trying to foster all these initiatives to be able to have the linkage between the centre of excellence and the tertiary institutes.”
He said the corporation was currently undertaking seismic survey as part of exploration works for oil in the Voltaian Basin.
Through a geochemistry technology, he said, the GNPC had taken some samples of the soil from the basin for testing and the data showed the existence of hydrocarbons
“It is indicative that there is something there, but we do not know the extent and we have to explore further. It is good news for us to find oil. It will be a major game changer,” he stated.
Dr Sarpong said in line with its corporate social responsibility, the GNPC, through its foundation, had focused on three core activities, namely, economic empowerment, education and training and environment and social amenities.
Under education and training, he said, the corporation, in 2017, awarded scholarships to about 900 students at the tertiary level across the country to pursue courses in science and engineering, especially, out of which 160 were in the University of Ghana.
Under the scholarship scheme, he said, the beneficiaries received GH¢900 annually to cover their registration fees and accommodation and a monthly stipend of GH¢500.
Dr Sarpong appealed to the management of the University of Ghana, which was yet to disburse the funds under the scholarship to the beneficiaries, to do so.
He announced that there were plans to extend the scholarship, which is currently for undergraduate students, to postgraduate students and urged students to take advantage of it.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, in his remarks, said the research chair would strengthen Petroleum Geosciences research and education and support the optimal exploration, delineation and development of the country’s hydrocarbon resources.
It would also facilitate the establishment of a technical partnership with leading universities and industry leaders in Africa and beyond and provide a reference point for the development of a similar technical capacity in Africa.
Under the agreement, the university will also establish teaching and learning exchange programmes with partner universities and institutions and engage with industry to establish a state-of-the-art research laboratory for Petroleum Geoscience.
It will also lead to the coordination of graduate-level Petroleum Geosciences and facilitate the setting up of a centre of excellence in Ghana and Africa for producing world-class professionals in the field of geology and geophysics to provide innovative solutions for the mining and petroleum industries.
In a remark, the Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Daniel Kwadwo Asiedu, said the university had, in the past eight years, been offering a programme in Petroleum and Geosciences, while some officials of the GNPC had been teaching at the university.
He said the research chair would enable students to generate primary data, instead of the secondary data they currently relied on.
The Head of the Department of Earth Science at the university, Professor Sandow Mark Yidana, said the university could boast the best experts in the industry and had the capacity to enhance research in the Petroleum and Geosciences industry.
Over the years, he said, the institution, in response to the high professional demand in Ghana's petroleum industry, had produced numerous professionals.