Energy Minister Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh has urged African countries making discoveries of oil and gas to consider managing the expectations of the citizenry and focus on harnessing the gas resource by establishing needed infrastructure.
Sharing Ghana’s experience of more than a decade of oil discovery and production, the minister said as a new member of the oil producing nations, the important thing to do was for Senegal to manage the expectations of the Senegalese people, after the announcement of oil discovery.
Extractive sector expectations
He said it was natural that oil discovery and activities of other extractive sectors come with high expectations, however, it is important for the managers of the oil resource to let the people know that the discovery would not lead to the transformation of their lives overnight.
The minister gave the advice at a plenary session of the ongoing 14th Africa Energy Forum in Germany where he was asked to share Ghana’s experience with Senegal owing to the latter’s recent discovery and joining the comity of oil producing nations.
He said striking oil and gas increases the expectations of nationals who believe they would see transformation in their lives. “I must say there would be an expectation and you have to start moderating to get the people to understand what is at stake.”
He counseled the leadership of the country to note that Senegalese nationals can participate in the industry only if they make conscious efforts to train them.
The industry requires skills, therefore, as the country prepares for oil development and production, skills acquisition should not be ignored to guarantee local content and local participation.
The minister said one other important area of the industry that Senegal should note, is the gas component of the discovery. The gas, he said is more important than crude since it could lead to speedy industrialisation of the nation, hence the need to negotiate carefully.
“As Senegal prepares to produce oil, they should have the facility in place to monetize the gas due to the enormous benefits that comes with it”, he said.
Oil was discovered in Senegal in the early 60s, but commercial reserves big enough for commercial exploitation were only found in recent years.