Minister of Petroleum, Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah is to appear before the Parliamentary Select Committee on Energy and Mines Tuesday, May 31, 2016, to defend the attempt by the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) to introduce an Energy City Project into their 2016 Work Program.
The Minister is expected to be grilled as to why he did not ensure strict compliance of the recommendation of the Select-Committee in asking GNPC to go ahead and build its Headquarters on a parcel of land belonging to the corporation, and lying along the George Walker Bush (N1) Highway, in Accra.
The Parliamentary Select-Committee is scandalized that in spite of the support it has given GNPC to go ahead and build for its self a deserving Head Office, the oil company has disregarded the Parliamentary goodwill and rather introduced on their blindside, an idea of going to build an Energy City on the land currently occupied by the Workshop Department of the Ghana Police Service and the 37 office of the Driver Vehicular and Licensing Authority (DVLA).
The Energy City which is supposed to be a long term project that will accommodate the top level offices of all the Energy-related companies in Ghana, was almost smuggled to Parliament without the blessing of the Parliamentary Select Committee in charge of the petroleum sector.
The Parliamentarians therefore blocked the GNPC budget, last week, and summoned to sector Minister to come and explain the gross disrespect for the directives issued by the Select Committee.
Sources in Parliament say GNPC smartly maintained the cost of their planned Head Office and changed the name of the project to ENERGY CITY PROJECT (which suggestion had earlier been rejected by the Committee).
Members of the Committee are at a loss as to how the $70 million Head Office project could be replaced by the ‘rejected’ Energy City project to seek approval through the backdoor.
Possible financial loss
The alleged diversion of course is coming at a time that the Corporation had for the last couple of years gotten approval from Parliament to go ahead with the processes leading to the construction of its Head Office in Accra.
For deciding to no longer build its Headquarters particularly after all the pre construction activities were completed and competing contractors had submitted their bids, GNPC stands to attract claims from different companies whose services have been engaged in the pre-construction stages.
Industry experts estimate that Ghana’s petroleum corporation will suffer a damage of about $7 million. Parties worried over the consequences of the sweeping directives from the powers that be in reversing and canceling major projects initiated by the Ato Ahwoi Board have warned that GNPC may have to cough up the $7 million to settle the Consultants, Architects and others hired on the Headquarters Project.
The compensation if paid, will be aside what GNPC has had to spend since 2011 that the company rolled out the processes to construct its Headquarters in Accra.
Background of GNPC Head Office project
The then Ato Awhoi Board of Directors constituted a Sub-Committee to spearhead the Headquarters project in 2011. That Sub-Committee, chaired by the Paramount Chief of the Nzema Traditional area and member of the board of directors, Awulae Abrukutu came up with the strategic plan for the Headquarters project.
The management and staff of GNPC therefore hailed the move and desiring to develop a new multi-storey state of the art corporate Head Office on GNPC’s vacant parcel of land located along the George Walker Bush Highway, Accra.
“To that effect, a Design Competition was initially held and was followed up with a ‘Beauty Context’ of selected architects in Ghana, and the best design was selected. GNPC then went on to activate the necessary processes to select a consultant and architects for the project”.
Last year, the Corporation had the approval to go ahead to select the Contractor and for which reason the selection was to be done in December 2015 to enable the hand over of the site for works to commence in March, 2016.
To the surprise of the Staff of GNPC, the new Board Chairman, Mr. Felix Addo has introduced the construction of an ENERGY CITY Project as the alternative to the GNPC Headquarters.
The plan for the Energy City Project is to relocate the current Police Workshop and the DVLA Offices at 37 Military Hospital enclave, so as to pave way for the Energy City Project.
Sources say there is no Board Meeting of GNPC where the Energy City decision has been tabled, deliberated and a vote taking on it.
Inquiries about the cost of the Energy City Project, how it is to be funded and such details proved negative, as officials from both the Ministry of Petroleum and GNPC did not have any information on the project.
The decision to stop GNPC from going ahead to build its Headquarters comes in the wake of another decision to stop the national petroleum corporation from going ahead to search for hydro carbon deposits in the Voltaian Basin of Ghana.
Both major decisions have been taken by the new Board constituted by the President, last year.
Another surprise to industry watchers is the fact that all the Petroleum industry state owned organizations in Ghana have their befitting Head Offices or constructing one for themselves.
Some staff of GNPC are therefore seething with rage the denial of the right of the Corporation to also own a befitting state-of-the-art Head Office.