Mr Boakye Kyeremanteng Agyarko, Minister of Energy says Ghana is preparing to create a designated Ship-to-Ship and Bunker zones outside Tema and Takoradi Ports to regulate and safeguard the country's liquid cargo business.
According to the Minister, the Bunker Zones which would include; both anchor and drifting zones, would ensure a drastic reduction in the risk of piracy during offshore bunker operations, improve maritime security, enhance collection of tariffs, and curb illegal smuggling and adulteration of fuel.
To ensure the smooth implementation of government plans, Mr Agyarko said relevant stakeholders would continue to collaborate.
Mr Agyarko said this during the opening of this year's Oil and Shipping Africa conference in Accra. The two-day conference is hosted by Ghana Oil Company (GOIL) in partnership of PETROSPOT Limited, a United Kingdom based organisation formed part of Maritime Africa Week programme.
The Energy Minister told the over 60 participants from Nigeria, Botswana, South Africa among others that Ghana was preparing to meet the International Maritime Organisation global sulphur cap to be enforced by January 1, 2020.
'We cannot gloss over the fact that we need cleaner fuels to guarantee a better environment for all. We look forward to achieving an 80 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions from ships by 2050.'
Mr Agyarko however urged stakeholders to avert their minds to some of the consequences of the sulphur cap implementation, which may include; higher bunker bills and the need for increased liquidity in order to stay in business.
Additionally, he said the importance of higher education in the maritime and shipping industry could not be taken for granted and called for continuous education and training in recent and modern trends in bunkering and maritime operations.
'Training and development is the guarantee for sustaining the industry and the creation of more jobs.'
The Energy Minister further stressed the need to trade ethically noting that it was the best way to ensure sustained growth.
He further appealed to participants to explore issues such as 'who takes care of the mariner when things go wrong at sea. '
Mr Agyarko said Ghana welcomed investments in the form of technology transfer and capacity building through public-private partnership within a strong local content environment.
'Investment in maritime and port facilities will be further enhanced by our plan to develop Ghana into regional hub for petroleum products that will encompass trading, transportation, refining and storage in West Africa.
Central to our plan to build a Petroleum hub in Ghana, is our ability to provide regulatory environment that assures investors of safety and security against piracy and other maritime crimes.
He was happy that the recent International ruling of the international Tribunal of Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in favour of Ghana had seen the entry of Exxon Mobile and Aker Energy into the country.
Mr Agyarko said investment in maritime and port facilities would further enhance plans to develop Ghana into a regional hub for petroleum products that would encompass trading, transportation refining and storage in West Africa.
'This mega project will provide opportunity for increased activity by large medium and small vessels thereby facilitating inter-regional trading in petroleum products.'