Ghana’s oil and gas industry has made steady progress in pushing for more local content in the sourcing of goods, services and labour. However, with the outbreak of COVID-19, the industry is set to face major setbacks due to disruption caused by the Coronavirus pandemic and the collapse in oil prices.
Due to the health crisis, most exploration and production firms have had to cancel contracts with local businesses. For instance, the pandemic coupled with current low oil prices, has resulted in the cancellation of about 98 contracts worth over US$389million awarded by Aker Energy, AGM, Eni and GOSCO, in what is seen as a blow to local content development in an industry heavily dependent on foreign expertise and raw materials.
The Petroleum Commission’s Chief Executive Officer, Egbert Faibille Junior has also corroborated this unfortunate situation by saying the impact of COVID-19 will have serious ramifications on local content development in the country.
In all, the sector’s regulator estimates that over 450 Ghanaian workers in Aker Energy, Tullow, Schlumberger, Halliburton, Baker Hughes will lose their jobs as a result of the pandemic. Though it is unfortunate, we are compelled to swallow our pride since the virus currently is beyond our ability to contain it.
While the country is seeking ways to increase local participation in the country’s hydrocarbon sector, the outbreak of the pandemic has thrown a spanner in the works and reversed some to the marginal gains made.
Thankfully, there appears some hope in the horizon since clinical trials for a vaccine is certainly about to be concluded. Studies in the US and UK suggest several experimental vaccines produce a good immune response in volunteers without serious side-effects.
The race to create a coronavirus vaccine is certainly accelerating. There are now 23 coronavirus vaccines in clinical trials around the world. We therefore remain hopeful that very soon, a remedy to this deadly virus will be found and then the world can return to normalcy and go about their lives without worrying about a virus that has disrupted how we live and work.