The decommissioning works on the Saltpond Oil Field at Hini near Saltpond in the Central Region has started.
The decommissioning vessels from Lagos have arrived in Saltpond to start the decommissioning exercise and the shutting of the wells permanently.
The vessels arrived in Saltpond on Saturday, September 24, 2022, reports Graphic Online's Central Regional correspondent, Shirley Asiedu-Addo.
The oil field, also known as Mr Louie has outlived its economic life according to the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC).
The jack-up rig which has arrived from Lagos to decommission the Saltpond Oil Field
The decommissioning contract is being undertaken by a wholly Ghanaian owned company, Hans and Co. Oil and Gas Company through a consortium of experts gathered from around the world.
They are to ensure all necessary procedural, technical and social controls and mitigation measures were rightly executed to reduce environmental impact to the barest minimum.
The GNPC at a press briefing at Hini near Saltpond in the Central Region on Sunday (September 25, 2022) said this was because the current structural integrity of the field could not be vouched for.
The General Manager, Sustainability and Stakeholder Relations at the GNPC, Dr Kwame Baah-Nuako who addressed the press said the GNPC was collaborating with all relevant regulatory agencies to ensure the safest processes in the context of the environment within which the field was situated.
Dr Baah-Nuako noted that the decommissioning would take about one year to complete.
Avoid fishing close
For the time being, he advised fishermen in some communities around the area not to fish in the 500-metre radius of the project for safety reasons.
Operations at the field was stopped in 2015 after the field exhausted its reserves to a low of 200 barrels a day and therefore unable to meet operational cost.
Dr Baah-Nyarko explained that the decommissioning works would involve the safe plugging or sealing of the wells in the seabed from which the oil was drawn and the disposal of the equipment used during the offshore oil production.
It would also ensure the removal of the subsea infrastructure and the host production facility to pave way for the safe use of the sea area where the production facility stood.
He said the decommissioned which was announced in 2016 was because the platform and wells were in deplorable state, posing danger to the crew on board and seafarers.
He stated that the wells and wellhead were also in a deplorable state, a breach of which could lead to spillage of oil which would adversely impact on aquatic life and the lives of fishermen and those with facilities along the beach.
He noted that any incident could affect the reputation of GNPC and ultimately affect the social license to operate.
He said potential impacts include discharged into the sea, accidental releases of residual contamination pipelines and other hazardous and non hazardous waste materials would be managed effectively in full compliance with all relevant legislation and regulatory controls.
Three phase project
He further explained that the first phase of the three-phase decommissioning project which includes the decommissioning plan, budget and procurement strategy was done between March 2018 and November 2018.
The second included the procurement of a contractor to execute the work and the last phase the post decommissioning monitoring and evaluation.
He stated that the GNPC could possibly explore for new fields in the area in the future.
The Acting President of the Nkusukum Traditional Area, Nana Brebo III called for more infrastructural development in affected communities.
The Saltpond Oil Field is the oldest oil field offshore Ghana discovered in 1970 by Amoco Consortium and started production in 1978 after changing hands to Agri-Petco of the United States.
In 1984 the field was reassigned to Primary Fuels Incorporated which took over the operations for a year.
The GNPC in 2000 entered into an agreement with Lushann International of Houston, Texas for the rehabilitation of the field and the implementation of a rig-less work over proposal.
In 2004, the government of Ghana ended negotiations with a new agreement in which GNPC’s stakes were increased from 40 percent to 45 percent.
At its height of production in 1985, the field produced 4,800 barrels per day reducing to 200 barrels per day in 2015.
It will be recalled that in August 2016 the Minister of Energy directed GNPC to decommission the field based on the recommendations from state institutions such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Subsequent to that a field decommissioning process was initiated in 2018 with the first phase of decommissioning studies and a development of a decommissioning plan duly completed and approved by the Minister of Energy.