Business News of Saturday, 5 July 2014

Source: Public Agenda

Flaring of gas at Jubilee fields - Civil society raises red flag

Oilwatch –Ghana and some members from oil host communities in the Western region have registered their disapproval of the intention of the Jubilee Partners to flare Associated Natural Gas from now till October this year, when Western Corridor Gas Infrastructure Development Project is expected to be completed.

The disapproval followed a piece of Information Oilwatch sourced from Reuters on June 9 that suggested that the Government of Ghana had given signal of no objection to the jubilee partner's intention to flare natural gas.

Government's endorsement of the flaring in the view of Oilwatch “is a recipe for the commodification of nature noting the priceless and beneficial values associated with ecosystem functions and service in promoting human development and progress. When Gas is flared, the atmosphere and the marine ecosystems and ecology (in the case of the jubilee partners offshore production) bear the first line of consequences.” These were contained in a statement issued in Accra last week.

The statement said: “We are dismayed at the Government's position particularly at a time that global efforts are being made to reduce the frequency of gas flaring. It is widely acknowledged that gas flaring is a major contributor to climate change via the emissions of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide (CO?), methane (MH?), and sulphur dioxide (SO?) additionally; it is not uncommon that gas flaring curtails human life through premature deaths and diseases.

“While Government's decision to grant concessions to the Jubilee partners runs counterintuitive to modern research on the practice, it also paints a picture of placing profits interest over human and environmental needs and survival.”

The statement supported observations recently made by the Africa Center for Energy Policy (ACEP) which outlined the varying consequences associated with the government's stance on Gas flaring, including environment, health, livelihoods impacts as well as the debilitating consequences for climate change.

Oilwatch, therefore, demands that the social and environmental costs value be established and published before any flaring takes place within the given period. That, it said, must take cognisance of the volume of gas to be flared.

Besides, given that gas flaring has a regional scale negative socio–economic and environmental consequences, “we demand an ECOWAS policy approach to ensuring responsible corporate behaviour, consistent with human and environmental rights. We call for the review of the UNEP report in order to guide our future steps in ensuring that future Oil production practices are consistent with the tenets of human and environmental rights and justice,” the statement insisted.

The inability of the Ghana Gas Company to complete the gas processing facility has had serious consequences for oil production from the Jubilee Field, with operators having to re-inject the gas back into the wells, said a news report of June 9 Edition of Accra-based Business & Financial Times(B&FT).

Currently, the operators of Jubilee Field, said the B&FT, have pegged average production for the year at 100,000 barrels per day (bpd).

Jubilee Partners, in their bid to salvage oil production levels, suggested a temporary gas bypass pipeline to the Volta River Authority's Aboadze thermal plants -- but the latest development means that the plan is effectively dead.

But energy policy analyst John Peter Amewu says government approval for gas to be flared is a “mistake”.

The decision, according to him, will have an adverse impact on the immediate environment of the Jubilee Field operation -- leading to acid rain.

He said government may have to reconsider its decision to allow gas to be flared till the gas processing plant is completed, especially as the facility has missed several completion deadlines, reported the B&FT

Tullow owns 35.5 percent of Jubilee, which began production in 2010. US-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Bermuda-based Kosmos Energy Ltd. each hold 24.1 percent. Ghana National Petroleum Corp. holds 13.6 percent and Sabre Oil & Gas Holdings Ltd. owns 2.7 percent.

The US$850million Atuabo Gas project, which is being constructed by China's Sinopec with funds from the CDB loan, has suffered several missed deadlines and is now scheduled to receive its first gas in October.