Monopoly and nationalisation in the gas industry have fueled the persistent shortage of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) in the country, pressure group the Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) has said.
Ghana, according to AFAG, is currently sole sourcing LPG imports into the country, a situation it said, was greatly affecting the supply of the commodity to its increasing consumers.
It rejected the government's stipulation that there was a limitation of resources and space that had accounted for the nine month long shortage of LPG, which continues to affect Ghanaian citizens.
Questions were also raised as to why the current government continually fails to increase the importation of LPG. Current weekly importation of LPG, according to AFAG, is at 1,500 metric tonnes, which is predicted to last only a day and a half, with daily consumption at approximately 1,000 metric tonnes.
According to AFAG, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), before leaving office in 2001, was importing 3,000 metric cubic tonnes of LPG, which was later increased by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to 7,000 metric cubic tonnes when it assumed office.
It, therefore, wondered why for the past nine months, LPG imports meant for storage had not even reach 5,000 metric cubic tonnes.
"Even if they were to import 5,000 metric cubic tonnes per day, as they are now planning to do, shortage of gas within the past nine months wouldn't have risen. The country has a storage capacity of 7,000 metric cubic tonnes, but currently, the government is importing only 1,500. Why can't they import 5,000 and ensure the regular supply of gas in the country?" quizzed an executive member of AFAG, David Opoku, at a press briefing in Accra yesterday.
He added: "As we speak now, gas companies are under stress, because imports come today, it doesn't come tomorrow. This is affecting industries and national security at large."
AFAG was also quick to point out the incompetency of the current NDC government, and highlighted the inability of President John Evans Atta Mills to create a "Better Ghana" for the citizenry.
"The consistent inconsistencies being displayed by the NDC-led Government in the management of the petroleum sector is a demonstration of their incompetence," noted David Opoku.
AFAG also referred to the previous government's responses to gas shortages, yet stipulated, "We cannot call on the governments of latter day for solutions." Describing the current political policies as ad hoc at best, AFAG urged for a long term solution to the LPG shortage in the country.
Amongst their proposed solutions was for the government support to private enterprises in establishing refineries, which further allows the development of Ghana's domestic infrastructure.
This, it noted, would bring more jobs for the people, where the lot of the ordinary Ghanaian would be bettered, as well as bring to an end the perennial shortage of LPG in the country.
AFAG was quick to call for the fast implementation of the gas infrastructure programmes, which are currently underway, and being managed by the Ghana National Gas Company (GNGC).
The waste of this gas supply results inevitably, in loss of revenue, hindering the Ghanaian economy from its full potential.
"It is time to go ahead at full throttle with the gas infrastructure programmes. It is indeed sad that for several months now, Ghana continues to flare associated gas at the Jubilee Field, which has 600 million barrels of proven reserves, and a potential for about 1.5 billion barrels of oil. Apart from the waste and loss in revenue, its associated health implications, in terms of the emission of dangerous chemicals released into the air, sea and the eco-system, could spell serious health problems for Ghanaians, and also contribute to the current challenges of global warming," averred David Opoku.
According to Ghanaoilinfo.com, earlier in the year, the gas infrastructure was nationalised with a conglomeration of companies discontinuing private practice and aiding the development of the government approved Ghana National Gas Company (GNGC).
In April this year, the gas was re-injected into the refineries to avoid unnecessary burning of LPG gas, yet re-injecting the gas into the refineries was seen as a short term solution, as it can be potential harmful in the long term.
Retaining the gas seems to be part of a larger scheme to attract investors to build power plants in Ghana. The Minister of Energy Dr. Joe Oteng-Adjei, warned however, not to sideline "the 'domestic agenda' [and] to effectively link the petroleum resources to the economic development of the country."
Currently, the GNGC is in the process of building a pipeline connecting the Jubilee Field refinery to the Domunyili gas processing site onshore at Bonyere in the Western Region.