Martin Kodom, an Assistant Geophysicist, Ghana Petroleum Commission, says due diligence is done before allocating oil blocks to companies for exploration or drilling.
“Allocation of oil blocks is a critical issue in view of its impact on the country and the people, both short and long term, therefore all relevant agencies apply due diligence for the best interest of the nation in such contracts”, he added.
He was speaking at a day’s public hearing at Denu in the Ketu South Municipality to address the fears and concerns of people over the planned oil exploration in the area.
Swiss African Oil Company has been given the go-ahead to explore for oil in the block, spanning the Ketu South, Keta Ada East and South Tongu Districts and he said the activity was in the nation’s interest.
The hearing was prompted by a recent demonstration by some residents against the expected inland exploration that would also cover the Keta lagoon, which they claimed was going to destroy fishing activities – their centuries-old source of livelihood. They rather preferred offshore exploration.
Mr. Kodom said a critical look was taken the technical and financial capabilities, proposed work programme and budget, previous work history, strategic fitness and environmental impact suitability before accepting to allow a company to explore and drill for oil.
This was because of its capital-intensive nature.
Ghana was now venturing into inland exploration and drilling and adequate measures had been put in place to ensure that the right things were done and there should not be any cause for alarm.
Mr. Kojo Agbenor Efunam, Deputy Director, Petroleum Unit, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said it had undertaken environmental assessment of the activity – the exploration and drilling benefits for now and the future.
“This is done for the maintenance of the ecosystem, the ecological process, sound management of the natural resources and the environment and seek common solution for environmental problems with other countries in West Africa and beyond”, he said.
He said monetary gains were not the main concern for granting exploration or drilling contracts and that environmental issues remained paramount.
Mr. Elliot Agbenorwu, the Ketu South Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), said public hearings would be held in the other block districts to help everybody to overcome their anxieties.
The participants, numbering about 150 sought answers to varied issues including the need to seek solutions to possible boundary issues with neighbouring Togo.