Canoe fishermen have been asked to stay off the Jubilee Oil Field, as the deep water gas project to pipe the country’s natural gas to the shore begins.
Officials of the Ghana Navy and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) have warned that canoes that disregard the rules and operate around the Jubilee Field will be dealt with according to law.
The Ghana Navy said it would not bend the rules for any group of fishermen, considering the danger their intrusion posed to the lives of the people working on the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah, the Apache II, the Errik Raude and other vessels producing and carrying out other important national assignments offshore.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic, Commodore Timothy S. Appiah, the Commanding Officer of the Western Naval Command, said the activities of the fishermen constituted one of the biggest problems that security personnel had to deal with at the Jubilee Field, which was about 70 nautical miles away and which, until now, was not a fishing area.
He said after production commenced at the Jubilee Field, some recalcitrant fishermen continued to risk their lives and the multi-billion investment offshore by fishing close to the production platform.
“As we have the much-awaited gas project taking off, I would like to ask my brothers in the fishing industry to stay off. We are now heavily represented in the area and will not tolerate their intrusion but arrest any canoe we see,” he said.
He said the risk factor in offshore operations must not be taken for granted, saying, “The current at 70 nautical miles is very high and in the process of wrapping their nets around the fish the current may pull the nets to the legs of the rig’s propellers.”
Commodore Appiah said there had been instances when many canoes and nets had been dragged under and the Navy and other service providers had had to rescue the fishermen.
For his part, Mr Victor Sunu-Atta, who is in charge of the gas project at the GNPC, said the Navy would be at hand to ensure that projections for the gas project were met.
He said the gas industry held huge prospects for the country because “in the gas industry every waste generated is a useful or raw material for another product and, therefore, it is our hope and prayer that we will deliver the gas to the shore with less intrusion from our brothers in the fishing industry”.
Mr Sunu-Atta said while the offshore project kicked off, other preparations going on onshore would be completed at about the time the gas would finally get to the shore.
The Project Manager of Technip, Subsea Division, Mr Laurent Deghin, said the project was a fast-track one and Technip was using one of the best technologies in the world.
He said the project would be completed in the first week of April, while the company waited for the shallow water part of the project.
He said Apache II had already spooled all the 14km flow lines needed for this phase and would be assisted by another vessel called the Dynamic Installer for the successful completion of another project for the country in the first week of April 2011.
“Ghana’ has given us another chance and that’s why we would love to continue and stay for the long haul,” he said.