Ghana has not picked lessons from Nigeria’s oil curse

Understanding the Oil and Fisheries Interface, Perspectives from Ghana

… as oil exploration hurts fishers

A new book, ‘Understanding the Oil and Fisheries Interface, Perspectives from Ghana’ authored by researcher Noble Wadzah and sponsored by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung has been unveiled after interactions with inhabitants of the coastal towns of the Western Region.

From tours research members made, it emerged the oil rigs were disrupting the way of life of inhabitants with dwindling fish catches recorded even as fisher folks get harassed when fishing as well as their cost of living shooting. Besides, some folks trained by oil companies as grass cutter rearers preferred being fishers.

Friedrich Ebert Stiftung’s programme coordinator, Ernestina Ofoe stated at the December 19 event, as a social democratic organisation believing in social justice, when news started filtering in about the impact of the oil and gas drilling on the fishers in the Western Region, the team decided to investigate, touring places like Ahanta, Lower Dixcose, Axim and Jomoro to gather data having met with district assemblies, technocrats, locals and experts leading to the book.

As Ghanaians mobilised to fight the menace of illegal shallow mining also known as ‘galamsey’, those in the fishing sector want a public outcry to safeguard the interest of the locals dwelling in the coastal towns as many are losing their livelihoods.

As the country prepares to drill oil in the Volta basin, which is onshore, such engagements according to organisers are crucial to not disrupt the lives of inhabitants and degrade the environment with little to gain.

Since both the fishers and oil and gas drillers must co-exist, best examples must be observed according to participants, urging a study of the Norway experience where there are set spaces for fishing and set places for oil exploration in addition to set seasons to undertake the respective activities.

Book author, Mr. Noble Wadzah for his part submitted the research also looked at the effects of oil and gas exploration on artisanal (small scale) fishers adding the research covered three coastal districts in the Western Region spanning about 30 respondents equaling 180 people using both quantitative and qualitative methods.

The research covered people from 18 to 75 years with 55.6% being men, 44.4% being women and 64% being migrants.

Omanhene Nana Kwesi Agyemang IX with other dignitaries on the high table

Paramount Chief of Lower Dixcove Traditional Area in the Western Region, Nana Kwesi Agyemang IX at the book launch to disclose findings on the impact of gas and oil exploration on fishers in the Western Region passionately warned that the lot of inhabitants is worsening by the day.

“You could even see the pressure on infrastructure on Sekondi-Takoradi. The few roads in the town have not been increased in any major way since the oil exploration begun drawing in people. Non-natives and foreigners continue to gain jobs while the natives get ignored. With corporate social responsibility programmes, the locals hardly get involved – rather the minister in Accra is liaised with,” the chief lamented.

Nana Agyemang, regretted Ghana had not learned crucial lessons from Nigeria’s oil and gas exploration experience asking, “What can Western Region pinpoint  as benefits in twenty years from the oil drilling?”

He also stated at the start of the oil drilling there were assurances that the number of oil exploration companies and fields will be contained but new fields keep emerging attracting increased numbers.

Ghana’s oil exploration companies include Tullow Oil, Kosmos Energy, Anadarko Petroleum, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation and Petro SA.

Oil fields producing the oil and gas include Jubilee Block, Tweneboa, Enyenra and Ntomme (TEN) and the Sankofa-Gye Nyame Field in the Tano Basin of the West Cape Three Points.

By Michael Eli Dokosi