Deputy Energy Minister Mohammed Amin Adam at the 2017 Resource Governance Index launch in London
Government has indicated that it will develop a public petroleum register containing fully all petroleum agreements, licenses, permits and authorizations, a government minister has stated.
Deputy Minister of Energy in-charge of Petroleum, Mohammed Amin Adam, announced the move recently at the Africa Open Data Conference in Accra.
Projected to be ready by the end of 2017, the register will provide further information on projects in Ghana’s growing petroleum industry.
The declaration provides clarity on an important area in the country’s 2016 Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act, which mandates such a register to be accessible.
The act’s existing provision did not clarify whether full-text contracts, as well as their amendments and annexes, would be made public or just a simple list of agreements.
According to the National Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) Country Manager Nafi Chinery, “The Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Regulations, which are currently being drafted, present an opportunity to explicitly incorporate contract transparency into Ghanaian law.”
To this end, NRGI has recommended to the government to ensure contract documents be published in an open data file format as opposed to “locked PDF” files that cannot be searched or easily copied.
Platforms like ResourceContracts.org help countries accomplish this.
The government must ensure citizens can use and reuse disclosed contracts without restrictions.
As part of international good practices, contract disclosure is well recognized as a key component of accountability and good governance in the natural resource sector.
At least 39 countries have published contracts and 27 now have laws requiring contract disclosure.
These include 22 EITI countries, as well as five additional jurisdictions- Western Australia, Ecuador, Egypt, Mexico and South Sudan.
Among 51 Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) countries, 29 have disclosed at least some contracts.
In the petroleum sector, contracts contain important information that citizens need to understand the nature and impacts of extraction.
The contracts are also necessary to properly monitor company activity and hold corporate entities accountable.
Contract disclosure also provides many advantages to the government.
Disclosure creates trust between the government and citizens and provides clarity and assurance to companies seeking to invest in the country.