Years back, Ghana imported four high-end helicopters to monitor pipelines but the move caused a nationwide uproar. Some experts argued that it is a great step to have the helicopters supervise the offshore-onshore infrastructures. Nonetheless, the controversy surrounding the development has remained a subject of public interest.
Anyway, here are some quick facts you should know about the Ghana Gas Helicopters controversy.
1. Only Four Helicopters Were Procured
Ghana Gas denied media reports suggesting that seven helicopters were bought for the surveillance services. The company clarified that only four helicopters were bought from China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC) in 2015. This was contained in a statement released by Ghana Gas to dismiss the circulating rumors.
2. Ghana Gas Helicopters Never Went Missing
Management of Ghana Gas has stated that the helicopters purchased by the erstwhile Mahama administration are not missing as earlier reported. The company has said that media reports indicating the helicopters were missing was erroneous and must be disregarded by the general public.
3. PIAC’s Dr. Steve Manteaw Fuelled Rumors
The circulating information that some helicopters purchased by the Mahama administration in 2015 for Ghana Gas were missing has been found to be initiated by the Public Interest and Accountability Committee’s (PIAC) Dr. Steve Manteaw, who claimed that three Ghana Gas Company (GGC) helicopters were missing.
Dr. Manteaw said that the helicopters could not be traced, stirring controversy among stakeholders. The co-chair of the Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (GHEITI) claimed that the information was leaked by sources close to Ghana Gas.
4. Helicopters with Air Force
Ghana Gas also said in the statement that the helicopters are stationed at the Air Force Headquarters at Burma Camp. This is because they currently lack the expertise to operate and maintain the helicopters. The company said the military has the expertise to operate and maintain the helicopters, adding that they are in good working condition. The report of the missing helicopters has also been dismissed by the former Deputy Minister for Power John Jinapor as strange and unfortunate.
5. Ex-President Mahama Commissioned the Helicopters
Former President John Dramani Mahama in 2015, commissioned four helicopters to police the Ghana Gas project and ensure adequate security on the nation’s onshore pipelines. The helicopters which were to be operated by the Ghana Airforce were procured to ensure that the $1 billion Atuabo Gas Processing Plant was protected.
The helicopters were procured with the aim of enabling Ghana Gas curb challenges that hinder the production of gas in Ghana. At the time of commissioning of the four Z-9 EH helicopters, the former president said the move was also to assist in the general security of all oil installations and offshore oil fields.
6. None of The Commissioned Helicopters Have Been used
All four helicopters manufactured by China have not been used for once. The aircraft which were bought with a loan facility from China Development Bank are said to not have done any surveillance of oil and gas duty as of yet.
Dr. Steve Manteaw believes they may have been purchased for some other motives outside oil and gas monitoring. The Dr. recently opined that they could have been bought for the military and not for Ghana Gas.
7. Why Has It Not Been used For Security Surveillance?
If everything said about the four helicopters is true, Ghana will be enjoying one of the most dependable security surveillance of oil and gas since it can effectively reduce illegal activities or vandalization that could disrupt operations. While many questions have been raised as to why the helicopters have not been used for security surveillance yet, no answer has been given. This continues to make the procurement even more controversial.
After the past speculations that some helicopters bought in 2015 were missing which the Ghana Gas Management countered and stressed that the four helicopters were stationed at the Air Force Headquarters, rumors concerning its high cost of maintenance followed. This also made the management to release a statement noting that Ghana Gas lacks the professionalism to run or maintain the helicopters. This, according to the statement, is the reason the helicopters remain stationed at Air Force base for proper maintenance.
9. The Helicopters Potency
The nation questioned the functionality of the four expensive helicopters which are said to provide first-class security. Some reports claimed that they were broken and rickety; others claimed that they weren’t new. Debunking the false report, the management of Ghana Gas brought some clarity stating that the four machines are in a very good working condition.
10. They Caused A Lot Of Disagreement
The use of helicopters to monitor oil and gas facilities in Ghana also didn’t sit well with some stakeholders who insisted that the country doesn’t need such huge debt for security surveillance of oil and gas. It was argued that the government should consider other options and channel the enormous amount of money to different issues affecting the country.
However, Ghana Gas stressed that the use of helicopters is tantamount to a reliable surveillance of oil and gas pipelines.