Ghana Maritime Authority Act
As a regulatory body the GMA undertook a number of legislative initiatives in 2011 to support the maritime industry particularly the emerging oil and gas sector. These initiatives resulted in the passage by Parliament of amendments to key legislation as follows:
Ghana Maritime Authority (Amendment) Act 2011, (Act 825)
The objective of this amendment was to make specific provision under the Ghana Maritime Authority Act, 2002 (Act 630) for the Minister to promulgate regulations for the purposes of fixing specific levies, fees and charges, to cover the administrative costs associated with the discharge of the functions and duties specified in the Ghana Maritime Authority Act, 2002.
Following the discovery of oil, the GMA was confronted with many new challenges in particular, developing the necessary policy, administrative, legislative and human capacity to support offshore oil and gas development.
The cost of meeting these new administrative challenges was significant and cannot be funded exclusively from the existing sources of funds for the Ghana Maritime Authority. The amendment empowers the Authority to apply standard global practice to impose fees and charges for services and or levies on operators in the maritime industry. The enhanced revenue will ensure that there are sufficient resources to provide efficient and standard services to the maritime industry.
Ghana Shipping (Amendment) Act, 2011, (Act 826)
The amendment was intended to inject local content into the oil and gas development by encouraging Ghanaians to participate in the shipping activities relating to offshore business. The Ghana Shipping Act, 2003 (Act 645) imposes restrictions on the trading of foreign registered ships in Ghanaian waters by preserving local trade in Ghanaian waters to Ghanaian ships. However, the current definition of Ghanaian waters is limited to the 12 nautical mile territorial sea.
The main object of this amendment is to extend the definition of Ghanaian waters to include the waters within the 500 metre safety zone generated automatically under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) around installations in the exclusive economic zone beyond the territorial sea. This amendment would in effect extend the scope of local trade to include the trade from shore to the any oil and gas installations that will be established beyond the 12 nautical miles territorial sea such as the Jubilee field which is approximately 63 nautical miles offshore.
The amendment also makes provision for the grant of permit to foreign vessels to trade in Ghanaian waters in instances where there are no Ghanaian vessels available or capable of providing those services so as not to create operational bottlenecks.
Ghana Maritime Security (Amendment) Act, 2011 (Act 824)
These amendments were intended to extend the application of the Ghana Maritime Security Act to offshore installations. The amendments will ensure that the requirements of ISPS Code under the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Chapter XI-2 dealing with special measures to enhance maritime security are fully met in Ghanaian law. Ghana has implemented the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code of the IMO through the Ghana Maritime Security Act 2004 (Act 675). However, the scope of application of that Act did not cover offshore oil or gas installations beyond the territorial sea. This is because the Ghana Maritime Security Act was enacted before the discovery of offshore oil and gas.
The amendments will therefore extend the application of the existing maritime security legislative framework to cover Ghana’s maritime jurisdiction and also incorporate audit and inspection provisions to ensure that the Ghana Maritime Authority has the legislative powers necessary to audit and inspect both Ghanaian and foreign-registered ships including Mobile Offshore Drilling Units and offshore installations located in Ghanaian waters.
In addition to the above pieces of legislation, the GMA initiated actions culminating into enactment by Parliament of the following legislative instruments.
- Ghana Shipping (Protection of Offshore Operations and Assets) Regulations 2011
Navigational safety considerations are paramount in any offshore oil and gas development. Offshore platforms and pipelines can be a significant hazard to navigation.
Safety of navigation issues centre generally on the safety of vessels navigating in the vicinity of structures and installations. This is largely because offshore installations and structures are often located in close proximity with major shipping lanes and productive fishing grounds.
Globally, these issues are addressed through a variety of legal mechanisms such as the declaration of safety zones around offshore oil and gas installations and through protection of pipelines. These actions are mandated under Article 60 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This Article provides for the power to establish safety zones around offshore installations, extending to a distance not exceeding 500 metres from each point of the outer edge of the installation. Such safety zones serve at least three major functions, namely:
- ensure the safety of people working on, or in the immediate vicinity of, the installation;
- to ensure the installation itself against damage; and
- to reduce the risk of collision with the installations by fishermen and other mariners
Ghana is a party to UNCLOS which is implemented in Ghana by the Maritime Zones Delimitation Law, PNDCL 159.
The Ghana Shipping (Protection of Offshore Operations and Assets) Regulations 2011 made under the Ghana Shipping Act provides the follows:
- empower the establishment of safety zones and protected areas around the offshore installations and subsea pipelines respectively;
- prohibit the entry into and remaining in safety zones without prior authorisation;
- prohibit certain activities within cable and pipeline protected areas;
- specify the circumstances under which people may enter these zones (such as to lay, inspect, test, repair, alter, renew or remove a submarine cable or pipeline in or near that safety zone; to provide services for the installation, to transport people or goods to or from the installation, under authorisation from the Ghana Maritime Authority
- Impose penalties for entry into safety zones and protected areas in circumstances contrary to law.
- Additionally the draft regulations provide for the regulation of Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODUs). MODUs are used in the exploration phase and frequently move internationally and conduct operations independently from any existing production facilities. MODUs are regulated as ships under some IMO instruments such as the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973/78 (MARPOL), during their mobile stage and key IMO instruments (such as the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code)) also apply to them on location. Regulation is required to protect Ghana’s interests from environmental damage and to safeguard the safety of the MODUs as well as other fixed and floating installations associated with production activities.
Additionally the L.I. provides for the creation of:
- temporary exclusion zones in the interest of safety and security and to mitigate the effects of an accident or environmental incident,
- Pipeline and cable protection area extending not more than 100 and 50 metres respectively on either side of a pipeline or cable.
- Other International Maritime Organisation approved protection mechanisms such as the ATBA, development area, and routeing mechanisms.
- Ghana Maritime Authority (Maritime Safety Fees and Charges) Regulations 2012(L.I. 2009): These regulations will provide for the imposition of a maritime safety fees and charges on installations, ships, pipelines, cables and other assets employed in the maritime domain. This will generate funds to meet the administrative cost of services and enable the Authority to develop the required human capacity to support the offshore oil and gas sector. Additionally the Regulations will revoke the Merchant Shipping Fees Regulations 1977 (L.I. 1132) which has become out-dated and replace it with a new schedule of fees for the services provided by the Authority.
Other Legislative Initiatives
A number of draft legislation were also prepared by the GMA during the year under review. The draft legislation which have been finalized by the Attorney General’s Department and are expected to be considered by Parliament in 2012 are listed as follows:
- Marine Pollution Bill: The Bill aims to provide a legal framework to prevent and control marine source pollution in general by consolidating the major International Marine Pollution Conventions developed by the IMO. The conventions that are incorporated in the Bill cover the following areas; prevention, control, response, preparedness, liability and compensation for pollution incidents. Additionally there are other relevant non-convention provisions for the prevention and control of pollution to the environment from marine sources. These provisions include the following: a duty to report discharges of oil, insurance for operators of oil rigs and platforms, provisions regulating the transfer of oil and provision for the Minister of Transport to make Regulations. The Bill is to apply to all Ghanaian Ships, foreign ships while in an area within Ghana’s Maritime Jurisdiction and installations located within Ghana’s maritime Jurisdiction.
- Marine Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations: The objective of the regulations is to provide rules for offshore installations to prevent pollution of the marine environment by substances used or produced in offshore petroleum exploration and exploitation.
- Ghana Shipping (Manning Agents) Licensing Regulations: This draft is aimed at regulating the activities of manning agencies and crewing companies with a view to protecting the welfare of the seafarer.
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