Tuesday, May 18, 2010

KOSMOS Spills Oil in Ghana

Districts of Western Ghana.
Image via Wikipedia
My last post was about an ongoing scuffle between KOSMOS and Cnooc over Ghana's oil. As matters seem to have died or or minimized and people have become hopeful of good fortune, a big environmental blow has struck.

The Spill
KOSMOS Energy is said to have spilled about 600 barrels of  low toxicity oil-based mudinto the oil fields. In March this year, the company is said to have again spilled more oil in the Jubilee fields in the Western Region.

Following this, the Minister of Environment and Science, Ms Sherry Ayittey set up a Committee consisting of her Deputy Dr. Omane Boamah, the chair, with other stakeholders like the Environmental Protection Agency. Their role was to determine the appropriate sanctions to be applied. In a preliminary report issued by the committee, KOSMOS admitted the offense, but fears are that with the current exploratory activities of the company, it could spill oil as much as six times in a year.

Unfortunately for us, Ghana has no mechanisms in place to curtail the effects of the spill. Quite recently oil spillage in the Mexican Gulf has been linked to the death of young turtles and dolphins. It may not  be long until we get news of the death of many sea species. 

I find it quite interesting that the Committee is meeting with agencies like the Ghana National Petroleum Agency to determine the penalties for KOSMOS. At this stage the greatest concern for me is the  environmental disaster that the spill could bring. I cannot think of a better penalty than forcing KOSMOS to siphon the oil from the sea. I do not think any monetary levy can be measured up to the effects on marine species and humans, which should be our greatest concern. I can only hope that the protracted dispute between KOSMOS and the government of Ghana, over the sale of shares to Exxon-Mobil, is not called in on this matter.

With KOSMOS executives already in the country and holding discussions with various stakeholders, 
let's hope that something good comes out.

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