By Francis Kokutse, Atuabo (Ghana), Sep 3 IANS | 4 months ago

A proposed USD 1.1-billion joint venture fertiliser project, to be financed by the Indian government, has been pushed to the backburner by the Ghanaian government because it wants to use the gas to support energy production for now, President John Dramani Mahama has said.

Speaking to the media after inspecting the USD 800-million gas processing plant built with a Chinese Development Bank (CDB) loan, President Mahama said: "Our number one priority now is energy."

He, however, indicated that there are attempts to look for other sources to produce energy and that should free the gas for the fertiliser project.

Three years ago, the Ghanaian government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with India under which it promised to sell gas generated from the country's Jubilee Oil fields from the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) for use of the production of fertilisers.

An Indian delegation led by secretary in the department of fertilisers at the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers, Sutanu Behuria, visited the country three years ago and held discussions with the government in Accra to finalise arrangements on the management and shareholding structure of the company.

President Mahama, who was then vice president, told the delegation that the government's intention was to use the gas generated from the oil field to support power generation, but gave the assurance that because of the importance the government placed on the fertilizer plant, provision would be made to sell some gas to the plant.

He said, as the country's population increased, there was the need to step up production to meet the growing demand for food and the use of fertilisers was one way of achieving increased output.

"Fertiliser production is a strategic way of improving our capacity to make it affordable to our farmers to achieve food security," he added.

But with the country now facing an energy crisis, the gas from the plant cannot go into fertiliser production as, he says, the project "is going to be a game changer".

It would even help our macroeconomic stability in terms of reducing the pressure on our foreign exchange reserves," Mahama said.

(Francis Kokutse can be contacted at fkokutse@gmail.com)

(Posted on 03-09-2014)

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