Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ghana Becomes An Oil Producing Nation...

Ghana began production on Wednesday from one of the largest recent oil discoveries in West Africa, transforming it into a significant producer, but raising fears over the associated risks.

President John Atta-Mills flew by helicopter to an oil-processing vessel located at the offshore field and symbolically opened a valve signifying the start of production.

Atta-Mills pledged his government will ensure the oil becomes ”a blessing and not an oil curse,” with output set to result in revenue that has been estimated at as much as one billion dollars per year.

”We will not let you down,” he said, promising the oil will be used to catapult Ghana into a ”modern 21st-century prosperous industrial nation.”

A video of Atta-Mills performing the ceremonial opening was screened to dignitaries gathered at the nearby town of Takoradi, where traditional drumming greeted the start of production.

The occasion was called historic by local officials and the oil field‘s main operator, the Anglo-Irish firm Tullow.

But while the country, seen as a model of democracy in the region, has been counting its blessings because of the riches the oil will bring, it need only look to nearby Nigeria to understand the potential dangers.

In Nigeria and other countries, major oil production and the money that flows with it have been accompanied by widespread corruption and neglect of other industries.

”I hope we put this resource to good use,” Ghana ex-president Jerry Rawlings said. ”At the same time, we should not over-rely on this resource and neglect other areas of economic activity like other countries have done.”

The oil curse, some say, could well take hold in Ghana, reversing development and political gains highlighted when US President Barack Obama visited last year.

But other observers argue that if anybody can handle it in the region, Ghana can, precisely because of the development that has taken place. The country is already a major producer of cocoa and gold

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