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—Ghanaian President tells leaders at oil conference
President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said while it is important for countries like Guyana and Ghana to sustainably develop their hydrocarbon resources, it must be to the benefit of all, noting that no group of people should be left impoverished or dissatisfied.
“It is of the utmost necessity that countries like Guyana and Ghana find ways of bringing their substantive hydrocarbon resources to production, and quickly too. We must add value to these resources and not export them in their raw form if we are to transition into the status of developed countries. The effective management of these resources would determine if we make it or not,” President Akufo-Addo said, in his address, during the opening ceremony of the International Energy Conference and Expo at the Guyana Marriott Hotel on Tuesday.
However, the Ghanaian Head of State said to ensure energy sustainability, countries must carefully balance the social, economic and environmental benefits.
“No energy project, therefore, no matter, how high its return on value, is worth it, if the interest of some or the majority of the stakeholders are not properly represented, and they are left impoverished and dissatisfied,” President Akufo-Addo said while placing on the table a menu of recommendations for Guyana’s consideration as it advances its Oil and Gas Sector.
Speaking in the presence of President Irfaan Ali; President of Suriname,Chandrikapersad Santokhi; and Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, President Akufo-Addo submitted that Guyana must ensure the judicious exploitation and utilization of its petroleum resources on a sustainable basis for the overall benefit of all Guyanese. As such, he said institutional and legislative reforms as well as the effective and transparent management of the Oil and Gas revenues are also critical.
“Lay the basis for continued development in the Petroleum Sector by ensuring that the Guyanese basin remains an attractive area for investment, value creation and industrial development in Guyana.Pursue ambitious environment and resource management policies…Diversify the electricity generation mix through the development of renewable energy resources,” the Ghanaian President urged while making equal representation for the Petroleum Sector to become a cutting edge industry with strong focus on people, their health and safety, and the preservation of the environment.
Importantly, President Akufo-Addo urged the country to minimise flaring of natural gas at a time when the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government has given ExxonMobil the ‘license’ to flare at will by reversing the “zero flaring mandate,” which was instituted by the A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Administration.
In doing so, the Ali Administration has chosen money over the environment, APNU+AFC Member of Parliament told the National Assembly during the just concluded budget debates. “… with this reversal, the PPPC now gives Exxon the license to flare any amount if they pay a fee of $45 USD per Tonne of carbon dioxide flared – the PPPC’s declaration that the fine of $45 USD per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent emitted, is an improvement, is nothing but a laughable sham giving Exxon the license to flare. Money talks, the environment suffers!” the APNU+AFC MP explained.
Flaring is the disposal of waste gas produced with the oil into the atmosphere. The gas is known to contain over 250 identified toxins including benzene; metals such as mercury and arsenic; sour gas with Hydrogen Sulfide, Sulfur Dioxide, and Nitrogen oxides, which form acids in the atmosphere and fall back as acid rain; and Carbon dioxide and methane, two of the main contributors to greenhouse gases and climate change.
Meanwhile, President Akufo-Addo said Ghana’s ability to sustainably develop its hydrocarbon resources, is centered, in part, on safeguarding the environment through rigid policies and legislative frameworks.
“These policies are focused on ensuring sustainable growth of the sector through legislative development, deployment creation, protection of the environment, revenue and cost management, transparency, diversification of the economy, capacity building and local content development,” he explained.
He said Ghana is pleased to have had its Ministry of Energy and Petroleum Agency partner with Guyana’s Natural Resources Ministry for the development and successful passage of a Local Content Legislation here last December.
President Santokhi, in his address, said both Guyana and Suriname are on the path of development towards a sustainable economy that will aid the transition from carbon-based energy to green energy.
The Surinamese President said the transition to cleaner and renewable forms of energy such as hydropower, solar and wind, will also transform the economies of both countries and the lives of their people.
Together, he said both countries can also help to address energy poverty. “I certainly believe that Suriname and Guyana with these new resources can help mitigate the global energy poverty, which makes it difficult for almost a billion people to develop a productive livelihood,” he said. Like the Ghanaian President, President Santokhi also underscored the importance of developing the Oil and Gas Sector in a responsible and environmentally manner.