The African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), a policy think tank has revealed that the several oil exploring companies owe the government surface rent to the tune of over forty million Dollars.
According to ACEP, the 2016 Auditor-General’s report estimates that the exploration companies are in default of 1.5 million Dollars surface rent.
ACEP is contesting that the amount indicated by the Auditor-General could be underestimated because the five percent penalty can cause an exponential jump of the amount owed by the companies.
Speaking at the launch of a report on the Petroleum Agreements(PAs) in partnerships with Strategic Action Against Corruption (STRAAC), Benjamin Boakye said even though the companies default in the surface rent their licenses have renewed without the government pursuing the five percent penalties on the defaults.
He said interestingly, the regulator Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) is also not showing interest in pursuing the companies to pay up the surface rent.
According to him, some of the contracts signed by the government with the oil exploration companies were not the best and a handful of them too were weak.
The Executive Director of ACEP claimed that since the era of active campaign to attract investors into the exploration sector agreements were not properly structured to benefit the sate because of the risk involved in the explorations.
He said there was no competition for the oil blocks and it was given on first come, first serve basis without any value for money done.
He noted that all these companies need about fifteen million Dollars to kick start their operations in the sector and they are not exploring but holding on to the agreements.
He said many of these companies have acquired the blocks but they are not exploring and not investing in the sector too.
He called on the government to review the petroleum sector agreements for value for money in the sector.
‘Many of the companies are in default of the payment of surface rent yet their contracts are being extended.
The government should have insisted the companies pay the penalties on the surface rent before an extension was given but this was not the case’ he said.
He maintained that this situation has risen because of the weak supervision from Parliament among other state institutions in the country.
A representative of STRAAC, Yusha Ibrahim Tanko said her outfit is pleased to be associated with the project to help expunge corruption in the exploration sector.
She said they are committed to seeing Ghana beyond aid as espoused by the president Nana Akufo-Addo in his statement to the world leaders.
She added that this can achieved, if the exploration agreements are properly structured to ensure value for money.
She noted STRAAC is committed to ensuring that state institutions work for the betterment of all Ghanaians.