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General News of Thursday, 30 November 2000

Source: Joy Online

Saltpond oil field re-opened

The Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC) has began production of oil and gas in the Saltpond oil field in the Mfantseman District of the Central Region.

A total of 2,000 barrels of crude oil and 40 megawatt of gas would be produced daily from two out of the seven wells in operation. Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, Chief Executive of the GNPC announced this at a meeting with chiefs and people of Saltpond. He said, the GNPC has so far invested more than 26 billion cedis in the rehabilitation of the rig, which was closed down in 1985, adding that there are plans to explore other sources of energy from the field.

He said the oil field suspended operation in the late 1970 due to low production and financial constraints, saying " in the past, operators of oil fields concentrated only on oil and left out gas which he said is a very good source of generating electricity".

Mr Tsikata said the operation of the Saltpond field will be similar to that of the Tano basin in the Western Region adding that, before the field was closed, it had one million barrels of oil and 20 feet of gas, but regretted that much was not done to utilise the gas produced.

The Chief Executive cautioned fishermen not to fish around the rig, stressing, "it is very dangerous to fish around it since a lot of harmful gases are produced when oil production is going on." He said a safety boundary would be created around the rig to prevent fishermen from going closer to it to avoid any danger. He pointed out that most oil companies fail because of lack of co-operation and support from the communities in which they operate and called for the support of the citizens to enhance the smooth operation of the rig.

Ms Esther Cobbah, Manager of West African Gas Pipeline Project (WAGPP) commended the chiefs and fishermen for not destroying the rig when it was left in their waters for more than 25 years and asked for their continuous support and co-operation. She urged them not to make unnecessary demands on the company, adding, "whatever profit that we get from the project your community will also benefit."

Mr John Frank Abu, Minister of Mines and Energy said Ghana has been known to have some oil and gas production potential in places in the western region, saying " the only commercial production of oil that has taken place in the country has been in Saltpond.