An Independent Oil and Gas Information Resource Centre (IOGIRC), has been launched to provide comprehensive information on the oil and gas sector, especially within Ghana, to ensure transparency in operations of all stakeholders and players.

The IOGIRC is an independent institution under the Oil and Gas Capacity Building Project (OGCBP), with support from the World Bank and the Government of Ghana, established to operate as an interactive space for information on the oil and gas sector.

The Centre (http://oilandgasirc.org.gh/about-us/), which has been operating for the past two years, offers varied range of information on oil and gas sector, including regulations, oil and gas agreements, oil and gas companies, oil fields, government and non-government agencies and their roles, relevant academic institutions and training centres, sector statistics, industry analysis and current trends, forecasts, oil and gas revenue management, projects and research.

The OGCBP, a $ 57.80 million project, which started on May 20, 2011, would be brought to a close on December 31, 2017; and it aims at improving public management and regulatory capacity while enhancing transparency; and strengthening local technical skills in Ghana's emerging oil and gas sector.

A Deputy Minister of Energy, in-charge of Petroleum, Dr. Mohammed Amin Adam, who formally launched the Centre in Accra, said among the constraints to accountability in the oil sector, was the lack of good quality research on oil and gas for law makers, civil society and the media.

He said good research was necessary to inform and influence policy and legislative debates and serve as an effective check and balance, stating that “in addition, independent research on the sector outside of Parliament is limited”.

He noted that the establishment of the Centre was therefore, a reflection of Government’s commitment to support relevant research for the public discourse on policies, laws and regulations.

“Building on the experience of other oil producing countries, the Centre will provide relevant information on the operation of the oil and gas sector to all interested parties and raise the bar on public scrutiny of the decisions public officials make, regarding the exploitation and use of our oil and gas resources,” he said.

“In addition, the Centre operates as an interactive space for information as well as keeping all stakeholders abreast with technical, strategic and commercial issues that affect the oil and gas industry.”

Dr. Adam said to deliver on its mandate, the Centre would provide comprehensive information through both online and offline channels.

He said to give true meaning to the objective of the Centre, the Government would soon demonstrate its commitment to broadening the boundaries of the transparency and information disclosure by launching a Public Register of Petroleum Agreements, Permits and Authorisation, a requirement by Section 56 of the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act of 2016 (Act 919).

He explained that the Register would contain full-text Petroleum Agreements and other relevant documents of public interest.

“It is our expectation that the Register will not only complement the work of the Center but more importantly, serve as important reference source for information,” he added.

The Deputy Minister said the OGCBP, had therefore, made the necessary investments in the nation’s oil industry, recognizing the power of information, for educating people, deepening understanding, and enhancing harmony among people; as well as enriching intellectual contribution to policy formulation.

“Government is therefore, convinced that the Resource Center will be used to the optimal to justify this huge investment,” he said.

He urged the operators of the website to ensure that information placed on it were very reliable and from authentic sources.

The Coordinator of the OGCBP, Alex Kyei, said IOGIRC is a knowledge hub, which is committed to promoting transparency and access to information on the oil and gas industry in Ghana.

He said the Centre also aims at promoting transparency through educating the public and collaboration with institutions in the oil and gas industry to share knowledge and resources.

The Vice Chairman of Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), Kwame Jantuah, who chaired the function, urged the oil companies to work with the Government to ensure that the people of Ghana benefit from the oil revenue.

At the function, the IOGIRC Steering Committee, made up of representatives from seven stakeholder institutions such as the Tullow Ghana, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, Kosmos Energy, ENI Ghana, Petroleum Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and Ghana Oil and Gas Service Providers Association (GOSPA) was inaugurated.

BELOW IS THE FULL GUEST SPEECH DELIVERED AT THE LAUNCH BY THE A DEPUTY MINISTER OF ENERGY, IN-CHARGE OF PETROLEUM DR. MOHAMMED AMIN ADAM

Chairman;

Chief Executives and Industry Experts;
Distinguished Invited Guests;
Friends from the Media;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

It is an extraordinary pleasure to join you to launch the Independent Oil & Gas Information Resource Centre (IOGIRC), and also to welcome you all to this morning’s ceremony.

It is an honour and privilege to be part of this gathering representing the sector Minister, Hon. Boakye Agyarko.

Mr. Chairman, permit me to extend sincere apologies on behalf of the Hon. Minister, who wished to grace this occasion with his presence and was looking forward to sharing in the gains of this significant event in the calendar of the Energy Sector and the country as a whole.

Mr. Chairman, the necessity for efficiently managing our country’s oil and gas potential compelled us to adopt such models that have worked well and to eschew those that have not worked. What became apparent to us was that countries that avoided the curse of oil were those that had robust, predictable and transparent legal and regulatory environment.

Equipped with these experiences, we embarked on our journey and convinced that Ghana was going to be a shining model.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have made significant progress to date. Effective regulation, active Ghanaian participation, increasing the capacity of institutions managing the sector as well as supporting institutions that train the Ghanaian workforce to operate in the sector are but a few significant steps that underlined our strategy for ensuring a successful oil and gas regime.

This led to the creation of the Oil and Gas Capacity Building Project under the Ministry of Energy, which provided physical and soft infrastructure for building an oil industry for the benefit of our people.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Project has helped mitigate some of the obstacles in the oil and gas sector. In particular, it has improved policy formulation and regulatory capacity of key public institutions and helped enhance transparency in our oil and gas sector.

As we have gathered here today to launch this important centre, we are also here to congratulate the Oil and Gas Capacity Building Project (OGCBP) for achieving another milestone.

This is because the centre that we are launching this morning, the Independent Oil and Gas Information Resource Centre (IOGIRC), was established by the Oil and Gas Capacity Building Project (OGCBP) with support from the World Bank.

Ladies and gentlemen, among the constraints to accountability in the oil sector is the lack of good quality research on oil and gas available to law makers, civil society and the media, which will inform and influence policy and legislative debates upstream, and serve as an effective check and balance downstream. In addition, independent research on the sector outside of Parliament is limited.

Mr. Chairman, the establishment of the Centre is therefore a reflection of Government’s commitment to support relevant research for the public discourse on policies, laws and regulations.

Building on the experiences of other oil producing countries, the Centre will provide relevant information on the operation of the oil and gas sector to all interested parties and will in deed raise the bar on public scrutiny of the decisions we make as public officials regarding the exploitation and use of our oil and gas resources.

In addition, the Centre operates as an interactive space for information as well as keeping all stakeholders abreast with technical, strategic and commercial issues that affect the oil and gas industry.

To deliver on its mandate, the centre provides comprehensive information through both online and offline channels.

The varied range of information the centre provides include; regulations, agreements, operating companies, oil fields, government and non-government agencies and their roles, relevant academic institutions and training centres, sector statistics, industry analysis and current trends, forecasts, revenue management, projects, research and many more.

To give true meaning to the objective of the Centre, Government will soon demonstrate its commitment to broadening the boundaries of transparency and information disclosure by launching a Public Register of Petroleum Agreements, Permits and Authorizations, a requirement by Section 56 of the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act of 2016 (ACT 919).

The Register will contain full-text Petroleum Agreements and other relevant documents of public interest.

It is our expectation that the Register will not only complement the work of the Centre but more importantly serve as important reference source for information.

Ladies and gentlemen, critiques of information disclosure have argued that the disclosure of Petroleum Agreements and other relevant documents does not empower citizens to demand accountability as such documents are often very technical, coded in legal terms that must be decoded for their ease of comprehension and appreciation.

At the same time, we know that, it is the constitutional right of the citizens of Ghana to have access to information.

It therefore places a greater responsibility on the Centre to not only publish these documents but make extra efforts to simplify them into forms that are easy to understand by citizens.

This in my view is the most effective means of linking the Public Register of Petroleum Agreements with the Independent Oil and Gas Information Resource Centre.

Mr. Chairman, the launching of the Independent Oil & Gas Information Resource Centre is happening at an important moment.

This is because Government is desirous of increasing upstream activities in partnership with national and international oil and gas exploration companies through data acquisition and acceleration of exploration. With increased upstream activities, the number of petroleum activity, local service providers and their personnel are expected to increase.

This means, the information needs of the public and industry stakeholders will no doubt also increase tremendously.

This underscores the importance of the Centre as it will fill in the information gap which could create suspicion on the minds of people; and which has threatened the survival of oil industries in some countries.

The Oil and Gas Capacity Building Project has therefore made the necessary investments in our oil industry, recognizing the power of information, for educating people, deepening understanding, enforcing harmony among people; and enriching intellectual contribution to policy formulation. Government is therefore convinced that the Resource Centre will be used to the optimal to justify this huge investment.

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, with this development, we have once again built an important foundation to enable us escape from the curse of oil.

In particular, the NPP Government, under the able leadership of the President of the Republic, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, is determined to ensure that Ghana’s oil and gas resources are well managed for the benefit of our people.

In fact, we want to make oil a blessing for the current and future generation.

We want to make oil a catalyst for economic, human and physical transformation of our economy; and we count on all of you to support us in realizing these noble objectives.

On this note, it is my singular honour to declare the Independent Oil & Gas Information Resource Centre (IOGIRC) officially launched. Thank you for your kind attention and God Bless our homeland Ghana!



SOURCE:GNA/GBCONLINE