There was drama in Parliament on Thursday as majority side of the House burst into wild jubilation following the passage of the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Bill, 2016 into an Act.
The jubilant MPs led by the Minister for Petroleum, Emmanuel Ramah-Kofi Boah hugged each other moments after the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Edward Doe Adjaho announced the Bill duly passed by the Legislature.
What triggered the jubilation was immediately not known but inside sources say the Mr. Boah together with the Chairman of the Mines and Energy Committee, Alhaji Amadu Sorogho and others were happy that the Bill was passed after all the setbacks it went through.
Armah-Kofi Boah contributing to the debate on the floor urged Members to fully support and pass the Bill, outlining the number of years and setbacks the Bill has gone through.
The Bill now repeals the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act, 1984 (PNDCL 84).
It seeks to provide for and ensure safe, secure, sustainable and efficient petroleum activities in order to achieve optimal long-term petroleum resource exploitation and utilization for the benefit and welfare of the people of Ghana.
The Bill introduces new fiscal elements in addition to those specified under Sections 19 and 20 of PNDCL 84. Clauses 85 to 89 of the Bill provide for the new fiscal regime which includes bonus payments.
The Bill further seeks to increase the minimum carried interest of the State in every petroleum agreement from the current ten percent (10%) to fifteen percent (15%).
The Bill also provides for a competitive public tendering process in the award of petroleum blocks (Clause 10 (3)). It also allows the Minister of Petroleum to undertake direct negotiations under two circumstances. The first is where an area offered for a public tender does not become subject to a petroleum agreement.
The second is where the Minister, in consultation with Petroleum Commission, determines that direct negotiations would ensure the most efficient and optimal exploitation of petroleum in a particular area.