Bright Simons, the vice-president of IMANI Africa, has warned that failure by Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) to decommission the Saltpond Oilfield could lead to a major disaster and environmental pollution on scale similar to the kind suffered by Nigeria’s Delta State.
The rig is yet to be decommissioned by the regulator despite many calls by civil society groups in line with the recommendations of a 2018 assessment.
Speaking on Town Hall Talk with Kofi Abotsi on Friday (20 August), Simons described the situation as a ticking time bomb.
“If you leave a field that experts have told you, if you don’t tackle, that field is going to lead to a major blow-up and we’re going to get environmental pollution – fishermen are going to lose their fishes because 150 barrels of oil will pour into the ocean every day – I will call that criminal negligence.
“Well, but it is still quite malicious if you know you have been told this is a potential danger to the people of Cape Coast,” Simons said.
He added: “People are going to lose their livelihoods, the seas are going to be polluted for years. It could lead us to a Delta Nigeria situation of insecurity and instability and [if] you don’t do it, that’s malicious.”
Watch the full programme below:
Operation of the Saltpond Oilfield was halted on 10 June 2010 by GNPC when it started incurring operational costs from a field that was producing next to nothing from its archive two wells, out of six originally sunk when the field began operating in the 1970s.
The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), which has oversight responsibility for the prudent use of Ghana’s oil revenue, then called for immediate closure, given that a great deal of money was being spent on a skeletal staff to maintain the rig, which had become a death trap.
Saltpond Oilfield was discovered in 1970 and was run by the Signal-Amoco consortium, which relinquished the concession field in 1976 to Offshore Hydrocarbon Ltd, seeing the field as non-commercial.
Offshore Hydrocarbon later entered into a development farm-out with Agri-Petco of the United States, which between 1977 and 1978 drilled six appraisal wells from a centrally located jack-up rig called Mr Louie.