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Ghana: NGO calls for tougher laws in the processes of awarding permits of petroleum exploration

Author: Business Ghana, Published on: 8 January 2020

‘Ghana’s petroleum laws need tightening – CEPIL’ 8 January 2020

The Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL), a right-based non-governmental organisation, has called for updating and tightening of Ghana’s environmental laws and regulations governing petroleum exploration and production to ensure environmental safety.The Centre specifically asked that laws on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Water Pollution, Air Pollution and Gas Venting and Flaring to be updated to conform to global best practices.It pointed out that gaps in regulations and laws on well plugging and abandonment, blowout prevention and decommissioning, and decommissioning fund ought to be filled and made effective.

… According to CEPIL, it had established that most of the laws, particularly on EIA, were narrow, not too detailed, not subject to public review or hearings, and not absolutely required for early-stage petroleum activities. “In the light of the environmental and social impacts associated with petroleum reconnaissance and exploration activities, particularly in the offshore environment, public participation and strict environmental review provisions must be incorporated into the process for awarding permits for these early-stage activities,” it said. It recommended that EIA regulations be amended to ensure all phases of petroleum development underwent rigorous scrutiny to identify and minimise environmental impacts. Mr Niber said the EPA should develop a consistency of EIAs for petroleum development and ensure that the full range of impacts were properly evaluated and disclosed to decision-makers and the public.

… He recommended adoption of emissions standards equivalent to those that apply to onshore petroleum exploration and development operations in consonance with international best practices. He also recommend that decommissioning plans must consider infrastructure removal or reuse and address environmental restoration and long-term socioeconomic impacts to local communities. There was the need to ensure that sufficient funds were available to fully implement and complete the decommissioning plans which, Mr Niber said already the Saltpond oil field was being decommissioned while the Jubilee Field would soon need decommissioning.

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