Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu on Tuesday said it was imperative that Ghana's legal regime on the oil and gas industry was reviewed.
She explained that it would enable the country to reap maximum benefits from the commercial production of the commodity expected to commence next year.
Outlining government's plans to strengthen the legal framework on oil and gas exploration and production at the opening of the All Africa Energy Summit in Accra, Mrs Mould-Iddrisu said Ghana ought to approach the industry from a position of legal strength to optimize gains from the sector.
"Ghana must approach the industry from a position of legal strength and we must confront head-on the legal challenges of becoming a major oil and gas producer"
We need to rapidly download the original attachment and make the transition from a country competing to attract valid oil and gas investment into one that is a major producer," she said.
Mrs Mould-Iddrisu noted that these transitions, even though complex, must be managed with skill to avoid the pitfall other countries in the region had fallen into.
She said approaching the industry from a legal standpoint might entail the review and update of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Law PNDCL 84, the issuance of Petroleum Regulations in accordance with PNDCL 84, the review and update of Ghana's petroleum taxation and revenue laws.
Mrs Mould-Iddrisu noted that the current stabilization clauses might also be reviewed since they were too broad and incorporated at a time when Ghana did not know her oil and gas potential.
She said Government had already begun to undertake some review of the regulatory framework, as the Energy Ministry had drafted a local content policy and proposals on various regulations and being referred to the Ministry of Justice for drafting.
Mrs Mould-Iddrisu said a new oil and gas revenue bill that sought to manage revenue from the oil and gas industry and ensure transparency was also being drafted while the oil and gas tax law had been reviewed and incorporated in the general income tax law.
She said that proposals for the formation of an independent regulator was ready for preparation into a bill, adding that it was expected that most if not all of the proposed reviewed legislation would be ready by production date in 2010.
Mrs Mould-Iddrisu said that the amendment would regulate, oversee and monitor activities in the upstream, midstream and downstream petroleum sector and support the national policy objectives of the up, mid, and downstream petroleum sector.
She said it would also ensure optimal levels of resource exploitation and the implementation of the Act.
Mrs Mould-Iddrisu said Ghana had not been given enough time to prepare for the transition "but we are determined to make our oil find a blessing and not a curse by putting the appropriate legal and regulatory structures in place to ensure that Ghana gets the most out of her oil and gas reserves and runs an industry that is transparent and best practice oriented".
She said to achieve these goals, government intended to maximize the country's revenue from oil and gas discoveries, effectively manage oil and gas operations to ensure proper development of fields, maximize local content in revenue associated with the industry to facilitate job creation, and induce transparency into the industry in Ghana.
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