ACCRA, July 29 (Xinhua) -- U. S. oil company Kosmos Energy would soon be made to cough up a huge sum of money, yet to be determined, in fines for oil spillage off the Ghana coast, a senior government official said here on Thursday.
Edward Omane-Boamah, deputy minister for environment, science and technology, told the media that the oil occurred three times around two of Kosmos' oil rigs in Ghana's Jubilee Oil Fields, discovered by the Cosmos Energy in 2007.
"We discovered that there were incidents of spillage of 598 barrels of low toxicity oil-based mud spilt around Atwood Hunter and Aban Abram (two of Kosmos' rigs) in the West Cape Three Points area," said Omane-Boamah.
The official is also the chairman of a government team to investigate the causes of the incidents that took place between Dec. 26, 2009 and March 2010.
The government said it was putting in place the structures to prevent or at least reduce to the barest minimum incidents of oil spillage in the country's virgin oil and gas industry.
In his 20-point recommendations to the government, Omane-Boamah said the fine, in addition to being punitive, was also to send a strong signal to the outside world that Ghana would not tolerate a toying with her eco-system.
"We were able to establish negligence in the first incident on December 26 last year around Aban Abram and also in the second incident in March 2010 around Atwood Hunter," he claimed.
In the second incident, for instance, there was negligence because Kosmos had deferred their own planned preventive maintenance schedule put in place to prevent such occurrences.
He disclosed that the recommendations also set perimeters for the development of the system to protect Ghana's coastal belt since they bore the brunt of any environmental consequences from activities such as oil spillage.
The deputy minister confirmed that investigations into the second incident necessitated planned but unannounced visit to the rig so as to secure first-hand information to facilitate their investigations.
Receiving the report, Minister for Environment Science and Technology Sherry Aryittey said the Ghanaian government would act at all times in good faith to protect the coastal lines of the country.
She explained that since there were over four million Ghanaians living along the coast whose livelihoods dependent on fishing, it was necessary to protect the fish stocks in the sea so their livelihoods would not be endangered.
"As an emerging oil and gas country, it is important to prevent spillage and to ensure that companies which operate in the industry are mindful of the environmental protection, because it is difficult to restore marine ecology, once it is distorted," the minister declared.
She promised that the government would act on the recommendations of the investigation committee as soon as practicable.