By Seibik Bugri
The Executive Director African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Dr Mohammed Amin Adam has noted that it takes a collective effort and will to fight corruption in the oil and gas industry as most of its activities are shrouded in secrecy. ?The level of secrecy in the sector is so sophisticated that no one organization will be able to embark on a crusade successfully single handedly? he adds.
Therefore, Journalists must double efforts, acquire up to date knowledge in the sector to fight the canker.
He was addressing the first of its kind training for a coalition of journalists ?Journalist Against Corruption (JAC) in Accra.
Partnering ACEP, Journalist Against Corruption (JAC) is a coalition of Journalists dedicated to focusing more efforts in the sector for common good. Organized by ACEP with support from OSIWA, seeks to drive advocacy on petroleum contracts, local content, various laws etc using JAC coalition. They will be expected to do follow ups and tracking of various developments in the sector and expose any underhand dealings.
The 26 journalists from various media houses were taken through ?Petroleum contracts, Contracting Process, and Local Content Regulation in Ghana?.
The Petroleum Economist said because of Tax heavens which prevents sovereign countries from chasing oil companies from disclosing their revenues and how their businesses are funded, it is difficult for many governments and law enforcement agents to enforce laws of various countries. Almost all the oil companies are registered in these havens. These havens can also facilitate money laundering as sources are protected.
Dr Mohammed Amin Adam therefore informed JAC that they must step up their acts and be more critical and analysis in their reportage beyond speeches. JAC was urged to advocate for best practices from many countries especially those who have just discovered oil and have put in place laws to effectively reduce the incidence of corruption in the sector such as Kenya and South Sudan.
Explaining further, Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, Executive Director African Centre for Energy Policy ?revealed that competent people, reporters and people who have resolve to resist underhand dealings in the sector are sometimes co-opted into the business to reduce their influence. Bribery is so common in the sector as well. Indeed in some cases Development Partners are involved in it citing the case of ENI of Italy as example. These, he noted calls for analytical writings and critical look at issues in the industry by journalists and not mere speech reporting.
A coalition of selected Ghanaian Journalists – JAC will undergo professional enhancement training to sharpen their investigative skills aimed at focusing more light in the extractive industry especially the Oil and Gas. The occasion will also witnessed the formal inauguration of the coalition. He urged them to do more specialization in the field so as to be analytical in the writings.
Taking them through the rudiments of the sector, Dr Ackah, Head of Policy and Advisor noted that the business of oil and gas has gained so much international clout that it is not just an ordinary commodity but one highly regarded internationally. It also capital intensive, assert specific and has a long gestation period. They were taught the differences between oil and other minerals and the value placed on each.
The Deputy Director of ACEP, Ben Boakye taught them the different petroleum contracting and contents of a Petroleum contract. He explained that in all cases the capacity of the negotiating Ministry is very important as a simple mistake can cause the nation millions of hard cash in the long run. The different types of Petroleum Contracts and their implications for a nation were explained to them.