The Minister of Energy, John Peter Amewu, says there are plans to welcome more oil exploration firms into Ghana.
Speaking on the Asaase Breakfast Show on Asaaseradio.com, Amewu said although COVID-19 has slowed business activity, the Ministry of Energy is putting plans in place to provide an environment conducive for more firms to invest in the country’s petroleum sector.
“The effect of COVID-19 and also the price of oil has had its serious consequences on our revenue outflow,” the minister said. “So, as a country, this is where we are. But we are not losing hope, because we have a plan for further explorative activities.
“We’ve commenced one of the aggressive exploration strategies at the ministry before this thing [COVID-19] came up. Which means that we allow the existing oil companies to go into exploration.
“It is only through exploration that you can develop and through development that we can produce oil. So if don’t explore to find oil there is no way you can produce oil in the future.
“So, we have now created the platform and the framework to enable more companies to come in for exploration,” he said.
But the former energy and petroleum minister Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah has said that the government is eroding the gains made by the National Democratic Congress in the oil and gas sector.
Buah said the New Patriotic Party government has done very little to improve the industry. “I think that this government has rolled back our progress for ten years,” he told JoyNews.
Yet Amewu says Ghana’s energy sector is gradually emerging from the woods.
At the end of 2019, the government had paid all of its bills to Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), he said, leaving a credit of GHC500,000. The government is committed to addressing the energy sector’s financial challenges.
Energy sector debt
In May this year, Amewu gave an update on efforts being made by the government to clear some of its outstanding debts to ECG. He was speaking during the Meet the Press series organised by the Ministry of Information.
On assumption of office in 2017, he said, the government was confronted with huge indebtedness to ECG. “As of December 2016, when the NDC [National Democratic Congress] left office, then under former President John Dramani Mahama, the entire bills owed ECG by the government at that time [totalled] GHC2.63 billion.”
Amewu said since then, the government had paid GHC2 billion annually to cover its ECG bills.
“Today, at the end of 2019, all government bills with ECG have been paid and the government has a credit of GHC500,000 with ECG,” Amewu told Kojo Mensah on the Asaase Breakfast Show.
“With an average bill payment of about GHC100,000 per month, the credit balance of over GHC500,000 is … more than enough to pay for government bills from January to April 2020,” Amewu said.
He said an additional payment of GHC4.14 billion had been made to various fuel suppliers to power producers. This is yet to be credited to the government.