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Monday, November 16, 2009

Oil and gas find creates employment anxiety in Western Region

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Sekondi, Nov. 15, GNA - Dr. Edward Omane Buamah, Deputy Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, has observed that the oil and gas find in the Western Region, has made unemployment among the youth in the area a big issue.

Speaking at a special hearing on the Environmental Impact Assessment for the development of the first phase of the Jubilee Oil Fields, organised for the Western Region House of Chiefs in Sekondi, he said the region had not benefited from natural endowments like the sea, gold, bauxite, timber and other minerals.

Dr. Buamah said it was therefore normal for the youth to expect better employment prospects from Ghana's oil find.

He said direct employment into the upstream oil industry required high level of professional competence and qualification, hence the need for the youth to improve themselves to be able to take full advantage of the numerous ancillary job opportunities, which would be generated by the emerging industry.

Thursday's special encounter with the 22 paramount chiefs concluded the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) mandatory engagement with local stakeholder communities on the environmental implications of the phase-one development of Ghana's Jubilee Fields off the coast of the Region. In September, the EPA staged massive public hearings within the six key catchment communities namely, Nzema East District, Jomoro District, Ahanta West District, Nzema West District, Shama District and the Sekondi-Takoradi Municipality, during which environmental impact strategies and corporate social responsibility programmes of the oil companies, led by Tullow Oil Ghana Limited were outdoored and debated.

"In the process of conducting the Environmental Impact Assessment, it is essential that the people of the region and all key stakeholders, including this august Western Region House of Chiefs are extensively consulted and their concerns fully captured and satisfactorily addressed to ensure that the project is implemented in an environmentally sound and socially acceptable manner," Dr. Buamah said.

He told the chiefs that Ghana had benefited from the knowledge of the mistakes committed by some oil-rich countries.

The minister said Ghana was doing everything possible to ensure that its future oil industry operate successfully without the adversities and bitterness, which characterised oil production elsewhere in Africa. The President of the Regional House of Chiefs, Awulae Attibrukusu 11, Omanhene of the Lower Axim Traditional Area, reminded the government and the oil companies about the plight of the region.

"This region is really deprived of development. Our children have no jobs so they naturally migrate to bigger towns and cities in search of work. Our town and villages are decaying and our youth are becoming restless," he said.

"I use this forum to appeal, first, to our government, and secondly, to the oil companies to do everything possible to use the oil find to correct the mistakes and injustices the region has suffered for over one hundred years now. As a people, and as leaders of our people, we are ever ready to work with all relevant agencies to ensure the successful implementation of this strategic national project."

The chiefs enquired how ordinary people could track the volume and flow of revenue, royalties and taxes from the oil industry into government chest. Ghana's Environmental Assessment Regulations (LI-1652 of 1999) as well as related international conventions require that all concerns, demands, views and opinions expressed at the various Public Hearings are duly captured by the EPA to be addressed by the proponents of every prospective industrial development project, which has environmental impact implications. 15 Nov. 09

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