Ghana's renowned oil economist, Mohammed Amin Adam has warned that any decision by the government to allow the Jubilee partners to flare gas would risk the lives of several Ghanaians, fish, and other marine lives.
The Jubilee partners - Tullow Plc, Kosmos, Anadarko, PetroSA and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) are currently seeking the approval from the government to flare gas from the Jubilee field which was discovered in 2007.
Mr. Amin Adam told The Chronicle in a telephone interview that the government should not grant the request of the Jubilee partners to flare the gas, because of its harmful environmental consequences, which directly affects the lives of human beings and water species.
"When the gas is flared into the air, it comes back as acid rain which runs into water bodies, farmlands and crops. If fishes take in the polluted water and are subsequently eaten by human beings, their health would be at risk," he noted.
According to him, people could get dreadful skin diseases as a result of their exposure to the flared gas.
"Some people can also get eye disease, especially itchy eyes. So whatever the quantity you flare, it is bad."
Mr. Amin Adam, who is also the Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), a leading African energy policy think tank stated.
According to him, it is even worse to flare the gas because the country is faced with power generation shortage, so there was no excuse to flare Jubilee field gas in the first place.
The Jubilee partners' move to flare the gas, which has been confirmed by the Ministry of Energy, and is being influenced by fears that the oil wells could be destroyed if the gas was allowed to stay underground, beyond the limit allowed for it.
In the midst of these challenges, Mr. Amin Adam blamed the Mahama-led government for not strategizing and lacking the innovative idea to complete the Atuabo Gas project on time.
The oil Economist said the government cannot blame the delay of the project on the controversial $3 billion China Development Bank (CDB) loan, saying "the CDB loan is not responsible for the delay and completion of the gas project, but rather indecision on the part of the government on which financing module we should have used to finance the project."
Mr. Amin Adam was surprised to hear that the Jubilee partners were seeking approval from the government to flare gas.
"But they denied our report a year ago that there were going to flare gas. Why the turn around, Mr. Amin Adam questioned.
"If there is any problem with the associated gas, Tullow and its partners must be blamed," he added. CONDITION FOR GAS FLARING
"The policy of the Ghanaian government is zero flaring, but it is not backed by the law. Under the Petroleum law, companies can flare under emergency condition(s), for operational purpose, and any company which flares gas must be made to pay", he stated.
Mr. Amin Adam, however, noted that there are options for gas flaring. "When there is use for the gas and rejecting it will affect the wells. Another option is to store the gas in the ground by drilling additional wells to store it for future".
This, he explained, would affect the cost of operating the Jubilee field because petroleum cost would increase and will possible reduce the revenues that will come to the government.
As you know the Jubilee partners are interested in the oil and not the gas as a result of it low price, we must, therefore, attract investors to come and develop the gas for export, Mr. Amin Adam told The Chronicle.