EPA calls for the development of biodiversity plan for proposed petroleum hub

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Proposed Petroleum Hub
Petroleum

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has asked the Petroleum Hub Development Corporation to develop and implement an Integrated Biodiversity Management Plan to ensure that the siting of the country’s petroleum hub does not lead to loss of biodiversity.

The proposed petroleum hub , which will occupy a land size of about 20,000 acres, is expected to be sited within the Western Nzema traditional area in the Jomoro Municipality of the Western Region.

The Jomoro Municipality is currently made up of forest vegetation and houses the Ankasa Conservation Area, which is characterised by high forest.

The Municipality also has a 61km stretch of coastline, which forms about 11 per cent of Ghana’s total coastline (550km).

The EPA, as part of the project implementation requirements, has conducted the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Report on the Development of a Petroleum Hub in Ghana to assess the environmental opportunities and risks of the Project.

The findings of the Report were disseminated at a meeting at the EPA Head Office in Accra on Monday, March 13, 2023.
The purpose of the SEA is to integrate environmental and social considerations in the development of the Petroleum Hub and identify environmentally sensitive areas and provide guidance for protecting such resources.

The EPA found that the proposed project area “is rich in biodiversity” and thus the necessary measures must be put in place to safeguard the sustainability of the flora and fauna in the area.

The Agency recommended among others the establishment of a Biodiversity Offsetting System (BOS) for Petroleum Hub activities with special consideration for women, children and the vulnerable.

Speaking to journalists at the meeting, Dr Christine O. Asare, the Deputy Executive Director in charge of General Services at the EPA, said it was important to ensure that each plant and animal species in the project area was considered critically.

“The place (project site) is very rich in biodiversity. We have recommended that first of all, all infrastructure is done at the side where there is not a lot of biodiversity and water bodies,” she said.

Dr Asare said the Agency would conduct additional studies in the project area to inform the baseline condition, adding that the EPA would monitor the implementation of the recommendations to ensure environmental sustainability.

“Although the Project site is very far from the Ankasa Forest, we will ensure that they will put a buffer around the area where they operate so that anything that goes on there would be dealt with, ” Dr Asare said.

Parliament in 2020 passed the Petroleum Hub Development Corporation Bill, 2020.

The Bill is part of the strategic development initiatives of the government to promote socio-economic growth and targeted at strategically positioning Ghana as a hub for the petroleum downstream industry in the West African sub-region.

The Petroleum Hub project is expected to transform Ghana’s economy and create over 780,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2030.

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