Government's quest of completing the Atuabo Gas Processing Plant (GPP) in the first and second quarters of this year would be a mirage, following the announcement that the multimillion dollar facility would rather be ready for commercial gas production in the last quarter of 2014.
The Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah disclosed this at the inauguration of a seven-member board of the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) in Accra over the weekend.
The 150 Million Metric Standard Cubic Feet per day capacity GPP is being constructed at Atuabo in the Ellembele District of the Western Region of Ghana.
He explained that the April deadline could not be met due to some technical risks that needed to be prevented.
Mr. Armah-Kofi Buah added: "From what I know, there are a lot of risks in there and so I do not believe anybody can come out and tell you that gas will flow in April".
According to him, there were several processes that the plant had to go through before it is ready for final production.
Although the Ghana Gas Company Limited (GGC) and SINOPEC, the Chinese contractors executing the project, have come under serious pressure to complete the gas pipeline and processing plant, as volumes of supply from Nigeria have completely gone down, thereby threatening power generation in Ghana.
The gas is meant to feed the Aboadze thermal plant to replace the use of crude oil in power production.
The Jubilee partners - Tullow Plc, Kosmos, Anadarko, PetroSA and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) are equally concerned because the gas that is being re-injected into oil wells, awaiting the completion of the pipeline and plant, is standing in the way of attempts to crank up oil output to its peak of 120,000 barrels per day.
According to officials of the energy ministry, the Jubilee partners are currently seeking approval from the government to flare gas from the Jubilee field which was discovered in 2007.
But a renowned oil economist, Mohammed Amin Adam had 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.
He said 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.