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General News of Monday, 21 November 2011

Source: myjoyonline

Oil companies must leave Air Force base

Some civil society organisations and political actors are agitating for the relocation of oil companies operating from the restricted Ghana Air Force enclave in Takoradi in the Western Region.

The oil companies, made up of largely foreign companies, operate from the air force base but civil society organizations and some politicians have raised red flags over the arrangement.

They are arguing that allowing foreign companies to operate from a sensitive enclave such as the air force base where sensitive intelligence gathering meetings are held and plans discussed was unacceptable.

Joy FM’s Western Regional Correspondent, Kwaku Owusu Peprah reported that some of the oil companies and other private business appear to share the same bandwidth with the Air Force which exposes the country’s intelligence information.

He said it is even possible to hear security chiefs in their security briefing room from one of the civilian offices.

The Daily Graphic reports that the Ministry of Energy has directed that the companies be relocated.

Tullow Ghana, Kosmos Energy, WEBB Construction, Crane Mobicrane, NHV Aviation, LA.S International, Hess Ghana Exploration and Vanco Oil Ghana Ltd, are private companies operating from the restricted enclave.

Two of these companies operate aircraft services from the Takoradi base to the rigs and back and could continue to operate from there until a public airport is built.

According to an official of the Ministry of Energy, the relocation had become necessary because the expatriate companies had the potential to interfere with the security of the military.

The agitations for the companies to leave the restricted area heightened when particularly the oil companies operating from the area were reported to be drawing water and electricity free of charge for years.

“In addition, supply vessels serving offshore oil operations are also reported to be drawing potable water from the Home Port of the Western Naval Command free on the government's account.

“The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) have, consequently, bared their teeth at those practices and threatened to head for court.

“The oil and service companies are using the premises of the Air Force in leasehold but have refused to pay for the utilities because the military, as a government institution, is not required to pay for those utilities directly,” reports the Daily Graphic.

The paper quotes a Ministry of Energy official as saying, the continuous stay of the companies at the military installation after commercial pro-duction of oil had begun has several implications; such as corrupting the military, intercepting sensitive national security information and diverting the attention of the military from performing its core function of protecting the interest of the nation.

He said currently the Ghana Air Force had been retooled to protect the country's interest to ensure that the operations of those oil companies conformed to acceptable standards.

“Therefore, if these companies are located within the premises of the same institution that is supposed to monitor them, it will amount to a conflict of interest,” he said.