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Petroleum Commission Ghana: Driving Ghana’s Petroleum Industry

The energy sector is one of the largest areas of development across the globe. Therefore, as medium to long-term oil and gas is expected to become one of the key drivers of Ghana’s economy, the management of these resources is essential. Therefore, the Petroleum Commission of Ghana has established itself as a world-class regulator, focused on promoting Ghana as a hub for upstream petroleum.  

Petroleum Commission Ghana was established in 2011 by an Act of Parliament as a result of hydrocarbon discoveries in commercial quantities across Ghana. Their role therefore is to regulate and manage the utilization of these petroleum resources, whilst coordinating the policies in the upstream petroleum sector. Consequently, the Petroleum Commission is a Ghanaian state agency under the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum that oversees all activities pertaining to the upstream petroleum industry for the benefit and welfare of Ghanaians.  

Petroleum Commission works to promote the effective coordination, management, inspection, and supervision of upstream petroleum and all its involved activities. These operations work together to ensure the sustainable development of petroleum across Ghana for the benefit of its citizens. Therefore, the Petroleum Commission serves as an overseeing authority body which is committed to working with key stakeholders across the industry to support positive social development outcomes all with the united goal of enhancing the upstream petroleum sector for generations to come.  

Within Ghana, there are four major sedimentary basins where the majority of its petroleum activities begin. The first is the Tano-Cape Three Point Basin/Western Basin, a cretaceous wrench-modified pull-apart basin between the Saltpond Basin in the east and the St. Paul Fractures Zone in the west. It is made up of a rift section which comprises shallow marine to continental deposits, as well as a thick upper Cretaceous drift section which is dominated by basin floor fans, stratigraphic traps, and channel systems. Ghana’s portion of the basin has great hydrocarbon potential, which has been well-known since the 1890s based on onshore oil seeps. The first major discovery was made in 2007, with oil production commencing just a few years later in 2010.  

The second key basin is the Saltpond Basin/Central Basin, a Palaeozoic wrench-modified pull-apart basin centrally located between the Tano-cap Three Points and Accra-Keta Basins. With an area of roughly 12,294 sq km, the basin is stratigraphically divided into formations based on lithofacies and depositional environments with its structure characterised by multiple faulting, resulting in a complex of horsts and grabens. The Saltpond Basin has a limited shallow water area available compared to other basins for exploration and development, but it is home to the Lower Palaeozoic Petroleum System which has Devonian source rocks and carboniferous reservoirs.  

The Accra-Keta Basin/Eastern Basin sits between the Chain Fracture Zone to the east and the Romanche fracture Zone to the west and is approximately 33,00 sq. km, with 1900 sq. km of that on shore. It is part of the western extension of the Dahomeyan embayment which spans across Togo, Benin, and Western Nigeria, ending just before the Niger Delta in Nigeria. Both stratigraphic and structural trapping mechanisms are in place at the cretaceous wrench-modified pull-apart basin.  

The final basin is the Voltaian Basin, an asymmetrical in-hand basin covering about 40% of Ghana’s continental landmass, and stretches into Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso. It was formed during the Pan African Orogeny roughly 6 hundred million years ago and is the result of the collision between the stable West African Craton and the Pan African Mobile Belt. Therefore, as we have seen from the four key basins across Ghana, the country is rife with petroleum potential which is currently being developed under the authority of the Petroleum Commission.  

As an overarching body that is steering Ghana’s upstream petroleum development, it works crucially across industries and with the community to promote sustainable economic growth and subsequent development for the country. Therefore, the Petroleum Commission is responsible for registering and regulating activities across the oil and gas sector through vital work with government agencies to approve licenses and facilitate petroleum laws.  

A key part of the Petroleum Commission’s work is in community relations to ensure that throughout the upstream petroleum industry, key players are working to support the local people of Ghana and sustainably access the oil with minimal effect on the surrounding environment. Consequently, a key objective of the Petroleum Commission Ghana is to promote equality, human rights, interdependence, and respect for cultural diversity. The Petroleum Commission is also keenly concerned with resolving and preventing conflict. Ultimately, throughout everything it does, Petroleum Commission is committed to openness, transparency, and accountability across Ghana and throughout the industry.  

As the industry is so vast and continues to rapidly expand across Ghana towards a future that positions medium to long-term oil and gas as a key driver for economic development, the Petroleum Commission serves as a recommended foundation for programming between stakeholders to mitigate social and human development risks and all associated exploration activities. Therefore, the Commission is focused on ensuring that sustainable development investments are made by oil and gas companies across the region to support the livelihoods of Ghanaians residing in host communities of these operations, whilst working with indigenous groups. Therefore, the Petroleum Commission is a unifying voice across the industry which regulates, supervises, and maintains a level of control across the industry’s operations. Thus, the Petroleum Commission can build a future for upstream petroleum that maintains a consistent level of ethical procedure promoting a booming industry towards further economic success.