CONSTRUCTION work on the $700 million Atuabo Freeport project, will begin by the end of the year.
The project contractor, China Horbour Engineering Company (CHEC), at the weekend carried out detailed soil investigation at the project site.
Site survey on the project, which would take six to eight weeks to complete, was carried out in 2012.
The Atuabo Free Port, which is a one-stop facility to provide support and efficiency to the oil and gas industry in Ghana and across the Gulf of Guinea would be located on a 2,000-acre plot with three main features including a logistic supply base, a fabrication yard, rig and ship repair facilities.
The site manager of CHEC, Liao Xian, told journalists in an interview at Atuabo recently that the detailed soil test was to determine the sort of equipment and quantities to be hauled on site for the smooth take-off of the project.
The External Affairs Officer of the Atuabo Freeport Ghana Ltd, Philomena Kuzoe, also explained that, a 100-acre logistics supply base would provide safe sheltered berthing, a strong quayside spanning 700 metres and a good water depth that would allow larger ocean faring vessels to load and offload content and materials related to the hydrocarbons industry, easily.
The fabrication yard, she said, would ensure the construction of subsea units in West Africa and also encourage the development of local fabricators and manufacturers in Ghana and across the region, thereby achieving and exceeding local content requirements, in the near future.
“Currently, rigs operating offshore Ghana that require repairs have two main options: Cape Town Harbour in South Africa or the Port of Las Palmas in Spain’s Canary Islands.That is a 20 -day journey in each direction, with towing costs of up to $500,000 per day.
Atuabo Free Port’s rig and vessel repair facility will offer an alternative choice for rig and vessel owners and operators; support the growing fleet of rigs, offshore support vessels, and even Floating Processing Storage Offloading (FPSOs) operating in West Africa,” Miss Kuzoe said.
She said in order to ensure the comfort of port tenants and users, the AFP would offer business support area which included extended stay accommodation, office space, shopping facilities and banks, adding that, a 1,600 metre airstrip, would also enable safe flights in and out of Atuabo.
There would also be a helipad to allow safe helicopter landing while major utility services would be supplied by the free port, she said.
“Overall, the Atuabo Freeport will further enhance operations within Ghana’s oil and gas industry and put the country on the map regionally as a hub for excellence,” the AFP External Affairs Officer said adding that, “it will provide over 1,000 jobs”.
The Commercial Executive of AFP, Mr. Frank Hagan-Brown, said the soil test was significant as it satisfied international best practices and environmental standard and also ensure the smooth mobilisation of infrastructure for the project including the equipment.
He explained that, the project was gradually following all the processes, adding that since 2012, the company had engaged the community on issues relating to land, crops and compensation.
Nuertey Adzeman, an official from the Ghana Oil Services Providers Association (GOSPA), said the project came with many opportunities and hoped that, within four months, the sod would be cut for the project to begin.
From Clement Adzei Boye,