By Landing Ceesay
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Hydrocarbon Experts finalised the Draft Regional Petroleum Code.
Experts from ministries in charge of hydrocarbons of some ECOWAS member States met from 31stAugust to 2nd September 2022 in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire for a final review and alignment of the draft ECOWAS Petroleum Code (ECOPEC); ahead of its validation.
The Abidjan meeting came after a regional validation workshop of the initial draft regional Petroleum Code in Accra, Ghana from 25 – 27 May 2022.
A representative of the African Development Bank, the consultant responsible for the study, and delegates from 7 ECOWAS Member States- Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, attended the meeting.
“After three days of the closed-door meeting, the participants completed a detailed review of all the provisions of the draft text with necessary amendments and further aligned the French and English versions of the draft regional Petroleum Code,” ECOWAS said in a statement obtained by Kerr Fatou.
After the meeting, ECOWAS would convene a meeting of ministers in charge of Hydrocarbon in October 2022 to be preceded by an experts’ meeting for validation of the draft regional Petroleum Code.
Thereafter, the draft regional Petroleum Code would be presented to the ECOWAS Parliament for opinion. In December 2022, a Supplementary Act adopting the draft regional Petroleum Code would be presented for the signature of the relevant ECOWAS governing bodies (Council of Ministers or Authority of Heads of State and Government).
Mr Bayaornibè Dabire, ECOWAS Director for Energy and Mines in his closing remarks, commended the experts for the depth of deliberations.
He further expressed satisfaction at the successful alignment of both versions of the document, a document that will promote an integrated development of the region’s petroleum sector.
ECOWAS Commission had in 2018, introduced the development of an ECOWAS petroleum code with a view to harmonising policies and regulations in the hydrocarbon sector following an analytical study of petroleum policies, laws, regulatory and institutional frameworks of the petroleum sector in West Africa.
The study was done in conjunction with the African Development Bank.
“In broad terms, it appears that a harmonised regional text will allow regulation to evolve by considering international best practices and current matters facing the sector. (Technology, security, the environment, local content, among others); and allow for cost-effective exploration and development of hydrocarbon resources in the region.
“A region-wide perspective is required in this respect for greater synergy and complementarity through combined efforts. This would increase the substantial contribution of hydrocarbon resources to sustainable development in the region,” ECOWAS said.
ECOWAS said the regional petroleum code therefore lays down general, common and specific provisions that capture all hydrocarbon exploration and production activities in the ECOWAS region.
The regional Petroleum Code defines procedures for exploration, research, mining, (and) pipeline transportation of crude hydrocarbons. It also includes tax, customs and foreign exchange provisions.
The code further includes provisions on transparency, local content promotion, supply to the local energy market of ECOWAS, local development, management of cross-border deposits, gas flaring, development and management of cross-border pipelines, the setting up of a petroleum development fund, and a sovereign fund, environmental protection, among others.
The ECOWAS regional Petroleum Code has 8 chapters and 76 articles. Implementing the code would enable Member States to make the most of their oil and gas resources for the good of the population.