Defence Minister pledges retooling the navy to protect oil fields

Defence Minister (fifth from right) and other gov’t and Tullow officials

Tullow Ghana Limited (TGL) has received assurance from Defence Minister Dominic Ntiwul that work is underway to upgrade equipment needed by the Ghana Navy to improve the security of offshore oil installations and oil and gas fields located off-coast the Western Region.

Mr. Ntiwul gave the assurance on Tuesday when he was joined by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Obed Akwa, and other high-level officers to tour the Floating Production Storage and Offloading Vessel (FPSO) located at the Tweneboa, Enyera and Ntomme (TEN) fields operated by Tullow Ghana.

Mr. Ntiwul said of the TEN FPSO: “It’s obvious that it is a very expensive facility and the biggest challenge is to protect it. The security of a facility of this magnitude, and the security of the people on board, are important.  If you invest a billion dollars you must make sure you secure the place”.

Mr. Ntiwul inquired about disturbance from equipment such as drones, and Head of Asset Protection at Tullow Ghana, Captain Edward Abban, explained that the Civil Aviation Authority is now registering drones. He however reiterated the importance of improving aerial security as well.

On Tuesday, the ability of the Ghana Navy to monitor Ghana’s maritime area was given a boost with the commissioning of four naval patrol boats with responsibility to monitor Ghana’s maritime area, especially in the vicinity of the FPSOs.

Dominic Ntiwul said: “I think the Navy will have to be equipped to be able to do their protection in military boats. For now, civilian boats host military men – but that is not good enough. We have some boats but we need to equip our Navy enough, because now this area with Jubilee and Sankofa is a 2-billion-dollar exclusive zone. As a government, we have taken the decision to equip our navy, and air-force as well, to patrol the area with helicopter gunships so they can respond quickly if the need arises”.

The Chief of Defence Staff, General Akwa, called for the establishment of a Forward Operating Base to be located offshore near the country’s oil fields to keep the Ghana Navy close by in the event of an emergency.

The CDS explained that it takes more than two hours to get to the FPSOs from Takoradi, urging the oil companies operating offshore Western Region to work with the military to set up such a base that could be as close as 30 minutes to the FPSOs.

Coming after the ITLOS ruling, the visit was to afford the Defence Ministry and Ghana Armed Forces a sense of how best they can support companies like Tullow in the area of security and asset protection, and ward-off potential dangers like terrorism.

thebftonline.com l Ghana