Oil and gas production threatens livelihoods in coastal communities
Livelihoods in some host oil and gas producing communities are being threatened as a result of the adverse effects of the exploration and production of the country’s petroleum resources.
Predominantly fishing communities, the livelihood of residents along the coastal line in the Western Region is fishing, an activity they have engaged in for years.
With the advent of the commercial production of oil and gas petroleum activities along the west coast, however, this source of livelihood is now on the edge.
This is as a result of laying of gas pipelines into the sea, and the rig being used for oil exploration attracting the fishes because of the light it illuminates.
These sentiments were shared by chiefs and people of some of the host oil and gas communities when members of the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ) paid a working visit to some frontline oil and gas communities as part of ongoing oil and gas training under the auspices of GIZ and SECO.
At Anokyi, a community in the Ellembele District of the Western Region, the Chief, Nana Avo Blay V, said the operations of Ghana Gas Company had negatively impacted on their living conditions putting them at a disadvantaged position.
According to him, the siting of the Atuabo Gas processing plant and the laying of pipelines into the sea had virtually deprived the people of their livelihoods and some of them had not received compensation for their crops which had been destroyed prior to the establishment of the gas plant.
The chief explained that the land used for the project was cleared without prior notice and negotiations with the landowners and the facility also did not provide the opportunity for indigenes to be employed there.
He said: “If they are not going to give even menial work to our people, then we want a share in terms of royalties from the gas company to develop ourselves,” adding that the community would soon demonstrate to express their disappointment.
At Abuesi, a fishing community in the Shama District in the Western Region, fishermen said they currently experience low catch because most of the fishes find abode near the oil rig because of the light and they equally cannot fish in that area.
The team visited the Anokyi beach where sea weeds had taken over the shores of the beach. Inhabitants explained that life had become extremely difficult for them as there were no jobs and the sea had also been polluted to the extent that they could fish all night with no catch.
The 150 million Metric Standard Cubic Feet per day capacity gas processing plant located at Atuabo is said to be generating a lot of noise during production and the heat generated as a result of flaring gas is unbearable for residents in Anokyi.
“Our rooms are extremely hot at night. Nana sleeps outside and the noise is also on. They are really killing us here,” he said. The Programmes Manager of Friends of the Nation (FoN), a Takoradi-based socio-environmental advocacy, non-profit, non-governmental development-oriented organisation, Mr Kyei Yamoah, in an interview, confirmed the complaints of the residents with respect to noise and heat generation.
“Complaints have come from the community relating to noise from the operations of Ghana Gas Company, complaints relative to insecurity because the gas is conveyed through the community without adequate firefighting and protection equipment.”
“We are also told the ambient temperature has gone up in the night disturbing sound sleep by the community folks,” he said. He further explained that it was imperative to manage the petroleum resources in such a way that it would not be detrimental to the survival of the host communities.
“The regulatory agencies need to manage this resource prudently to protect the livelihood of the coastal communities, and to ensure that we maximise the benefits from the oil and gas sector. We believe that oil is a blessing,” he added.