International conference on petroleum held in Accra

BY: Sebastian Syme
Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur (inset), delivering the keynote address at the function.

Stakeholders in the petroleum sector and captains of Ghana’s downstream industry assembled at the first Ghana International Petroleum Conference (GhipCon) in Accra Friday, to brainstorm and work out mechanisms to remove the bottlenecks affecting the performance of the sector.

The conference which had the theme, “The Changing Phase of Petroleum Repositioning Industry,” discussed, among other subjects, issues relating to the regulatory regime, unfair competition practices by distribution companies and financial regulations in the industry.

Opening the conference, the Vice-President, Mr Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, noted that the theme appropriately reflected the volatile state of the industry on the local and international stages and stressed the urgent need for players in the sector to strategise.

Domestic petroleum

Touching on the domestic petroleum front, Mr Amissah-Arthur also said the area was confronted with short and medium- term financial and structural challenges and urged the conference to objectively discuss those shortcomings and offer suggestions that would help to develop a vibrant downstream sector.

He stated that the global price of crude oil had been halved in the last 15 months, reducing the level of petroleum revenues anticipated in the budget, adding that resulting from the price developments, firms had scaled back their investment and curtailed their exploration activities.

Notwithstanding that challenge, Mr Amissah-Arthur said a domestic gas industry was emerging with a potential to attract further investments into the sector.

Interventions

To improve the investment environment and governance in the sector, the Vice-President enumerated various policy and legislative initiatives introduced by the government, including the development of a gas infrastructure that is currently delivering about 100 million standard cubic feet of gas per day to the thermal plants at Aboadze.

He also said a gas master plan was also in the offing to provide the framework for the medium to long-term gas utilisation and infrastructure development.

Mr Amissah-Arthur added that the government was currently developing a national policy on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) aimed at streamlining activities in LPG production, transportation and use in a safe and standardised market.

Under the National LPG promotion policy, he said the government’s intention was to increase the use of LPG in the country to ensure that by the year 2020, at least 50 per cent of Ghanaians had access to LPG.

“Our expectation is that the private sector will invest in new LPG infrastructure to increase access and availability of the product to consumers, especially in rural areas,” he added.

Minister of Petroleum

The Minister of Petroleum, Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, who chaired the function, expressed the government’s commitment to ensuring transparency for all industry players to compete favourably on the market.

While the Chief Executive Officer of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), Mr Moses Asaga, engaged the participants in  a review of the deregulation policy, the Minister of Finance, Mr Seth Terkper, spoke on the projected decline in oil revenues and the fiscal implications for the economy.

Conference objective

Earlier in his welcome address, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors, Mr Senyo Horsi, explained that the platform sought to deepen the constructive role of the mid and downstream sectors in the growth of the economy, as well as foster co-operation between stakeholders and policy makers.

He observed that the last two years marked a major turning point in the petroleum industry in Ghana and the world as a whole as crude oil prices tumbled in ways least expected by many. He attributed the situation to exogenous factors affecting demand and supply that affected the country’s budget projections.