Date: 16th May 2014.
GOGSPA Supports Atuabo Free Port Project
The Ghana Oil and Gas Service Providers Association (GOGSPA) wish to commend government for its efforts to expand the Takoradi Port and also giving cabinet approval for the development of Atuabo Free Port, which will be dedicated to the oil and gas sector.
We hope the free port project, which is currently before Parliament will go through the necessary processes with the urgency it deserves and approval given to the operator, Lonrho to commence work.
It is also the fervent hope of GOGSPA that, as we develop and join the community of oil producing nations, it would be vital to have facilities such as a dedicated port for oil and gas operations from storage, fabrications and maintenance work all at one location.
Even though the country has two ports at Takoradi and Tema, these facilities were not built with the oil in mind; therefore, those supporting offshore operations currently have to struggle for space within the port. The yet to be built Atuabo Free Port with all the services incorporated in the design will turn Ghana into an oil and gas hub within the West African sub-region.
The project when completed will create wealth for Ghana; generate employment and thereby transforming the local economy of Atuabo, the Ellembelle and Jomoro districts as well as the entire Nzema Land.
Currently, as a result of the oil discoveries, there has been an increase in the movement of heavy duty vehicular trucks competing with other road users within the Sekondi/Takoradi metropolis as the trucks carry equipment needed for offshore activities. With a dedicated shore base facility, the movement of trucks in the metropolis would reduce and the current congestion in the twin-city of Sekondi/Takoradi will ease significantly.
We at GOGSPA are very happy with the move for a Free Port at Atuabo, which is long overdue. It would not only complement the Takoradi Port and ease the congestion in the STMA Metropolis, but also as a way of decentralizing development across the country.
It is important that we spread development across the country where the indigenes would see the need to stay at home and not migrate to urban centers. Atuabo Port infrastructure will allow indigenous Oil and Gas companies to increase their operations which have been hampered to date as a result of lack of suitable infrastructure.
The Port will guarantee the use of Ghana's built capacity in the oil and gas industry after the oil reserves are depleted. The Atuabo Free Port will increase infrastructure in the Western Region especially in the Nzema Land in line with Tema Metropolitan Authority.
The Port will act as a catalyst for the establishment of a petrochemical Industry and thereby increase business opportunities for service providers at the enclave.
It is important for the players such as Ghana Ports and Harbors Authority to note that, Atuabo Free Port is rather going to complement their efforts in moving this nation forward.
The Service providers are currently faced with several challenges, resulting in avoidable costs to our members’ daily. It is important to note that because there is no alternative to the use of GPHA facilities, our members and other port users feel intimidated and are not given the chance to make complaints or offer suggestions.
This posture of GPHA especially at Takoradi needs redress. Instead of its Union opposing the establishment of the free port, the Union should see the Atuabo Free Port as an addition to increased port capacity in the sub-region.
The documents available to GOGSPA on the project indicate that there would be massive transfer of skills that will reinforce the rich human capital in Ghana which will be available in the West African sub- region.
We therefore want to state here that, GOGSPA fully supports the Atuabo Free Port Project and declare the move as timely and crucial for the development of the oil and gas industry in Ghana. In a few years, GOGSPA could predict that Ghana would export expertise to the world through the scheme designed by Atuabo Free Port.
The master plan of the port that GOGSPA sighted would incorporate areas for logistics and subsea fabrication yards, rig and vessel repairs and heavy duty engineering services. Others include business support services with an airstrip for both fixed and rotary winged aircraft services and an area for hotels and catering services.
GOGSPA commends the government and the sector ministries for creating another chance for Ghana to increase infrastructure for the benefit of the country and we will like all the relevant state agencies involved to ensure that the project is executed.