Advisory Report on Ghana's New Petroleum (Exploration & Production) Bill 2014

Ghana's draft Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Bill 2014 is progressive in many ways and is a major improvement on the PNDC Law 84. The draft Bill seeks to ensure that upstream petroleum operations are conducted in accordance with the principles of good governance, transparency and sustainable development. It particularly covers new areas including provisions for reconnaissance licenses and open public tender process, improved fiscal terms including provisions on thin capitalization and transfer pricing, regulations on infrastructure installation and operations, Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) standards and good governance. However, there are areas that need to be reviewed, whilst other areas need to be strengthened.

The draft Bill has witnessed several changes. It was previously introduced into Parliament in 2013 and attracted intensive comments from Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) including ACEP for improving its content. The latest version of the draft Bill has recently been approved by Cabinet for consideration by Parliament, which is expected to deliberate upon and enact the Bill into law. On enactment and upon coming into force, the Bill will repeal PNDCL 84, save existing regulations, notices, orders, directives, appointments or acts lawfully made or done under PNDCL 84, all of which shall be deemed as valid acts emanating from the Bill unless subsequently revoked, cancelled or terminated in accordance with law.

The substantive content of the draft Bill is, without doubt, comprehensive. In the paragraphs that follow, this report takes cognizance of the comprehensive nature of the draft Bill as well as its contextual significance and is intended to critique the draft Bill by providing general but critical analysis into salient provisions straddling open contracting provisions, legal and fiscal regimes, and institutional, environmental and other regulatory reforms.