The Ghanaian government has issued a strong statement directing oil companies in the country not to sack workers over fallen price of crude on the world market. Earlier this month, oil companies in Ghana started laying off their workers to prevent loses due to fall in the price of crude. More than 100 workers have already been laid off. The oil companies have hinted that more workers will soon go. However, Ghana’s Petroleum Ministry observed that although the oil companies reserved the right to downsize their staff, Ghanaians working in departments such as Operations, Technical Services and Planning, Project and Engineering, Well engineering and Subsurface and Exploration should not be laid off.
The ministry further said the order has become necessary because Ghana is still young in the oil business and therefore needs to learn essential skill needed for the exploration activities. ``The Ministry directs that the oil companies offer Ghana a competitive severance package and roll out placement support programs to ensure proper transition. This will ensure that the continuous effort to build and augment oil and gas technical skills and competency among Ghanaian professionals as prescribed by the local content policy and law is sustained’’, the Ministry said in a statement. There has not been any response from the oil companies. But some independent observers told Cameroon Concord that the oil companies are likely to defy the government’s order which might end up in court.
Crude oil on the world market has fallen to a record low of around $47 dollars and this is expected to affect the economies of the oil exporting countries especially those in the developing world. Ghana’s President, John Dramani Mahama said in January that the country will lose some $700 million oil revenue this year as a result of the falling price of crude on the world market. Ghana makes an average of $1.2 billion annually from crude oil production but the fallen price of the commodity has brought the expected revenue down to $500 million.
Ghana discovered its offshore oil and gas fields in 2007. By 2010, it had started pumping the first oil. Since then, oil has been produced in commercial quantities, and over the next 20 years, it could earn up to US$20 billion in export revenue for the country. It is expected that this will present an opportunity for the growth of the country’s economy but the picture has began to look different from what is expected. Quite a number of companies are scrambling to trade with Ghana in the oil sector. It is very difficult to verify their numbers due to restrictions on certain government documents, allowing them to continue to operate in the dark with the help of corrupt politicians.