Oil production steady decline threatens free SHS funding

By Benson Afful

Oil revenue watchdog Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) says there is the need for the government to attract investors in the upstream petroleum sector to reverse the steady decline in oil production in the country.

The committee in its latest annual report urged government to speed up the sustainable development of the country’s petroleum resources as well as to ensure early completion of ongoing project as the country’s crude oil production has been declining for three consecutive years.

PIAC, which has been monitoring government in the last decade over how it spends the country oil revenue disclosed in its 2022 annual report that a volume of 71,439,585 barrels was produced in 2019, but declined to 66,926,806 barrels in 2020, representing 6.32 percent.

It further declined to 55,050,391 barrels in 2021 (17.75%) and then to 51,756,481 barrels in 2022 (5.98%).

The average decline over the three-year period stood at 10 percent, PIAC said.

Energy analysts have expressed worry over this development as they believe the decline in oil production might affect the and funding and development of several government projects and programmes.

For instance, government flagship programme Free Senior High School is heavily reliant on oil revenue and the continuous decline of oil production might affect government’s spending on the programme.

President Akufo-Addo during the launch of the policy in September 2017 said his government will invest revenues from oil into one of the most ambitious social programmes in the country’s history.

According to him, Free SHS is ensuring that the country’s oil revenues are being equitably distributed to the people—and not ending up in the pockets of a few.

It is estimated that half of oil revenue goes into funding free SHS, for example in 2020 about 53percent of funding allocated for the policy was from petroleum revenue.

However, analysts believe that government should diversified funding sources of the program to ensure its financial sustainability.

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