Natural gas has started flowing to a new gas processing plant in Ghana, despite safety concerns being raised by the country's Energy Commission (EC).

The EC claimed that the Atuabo gas processing plant was not yet ready to receive gas. In a letter it stated that mechanical works are still being carried out and expressed concern that "hot work activity" including welding was apparently taking place within the facility despite previous assurance that the plant was "mechanically complete."

Independent audit firm the Wood Group has also raised issues about the mechanical completion of the gas processing plant.

And Ben Boakye, director of operations and resource mobilization at the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), said that the EC's concerns must be taken seriously.

In the letter sent to the Ghana National Gas Company over the weekend, the EC stated that "until Ghana National Gas receives written advice to the contrary, natural gas should not under any circumstances be introduced into any section of the Processing Plant."

The Commission asked Ghana Gas to provide certain information to help clarify the current situation and the safety conditions at the plant.

Dr. Ben Asante, director of technical operations at Ghana Gas, said that the company has formally responded to the Commission's letter.

He suggested that the concerns expressed by the Energy Commission and the Wood Group were misplaced, and confirmed that gas had started flowing to the plant from the Jubilee oil field, GhanaWeb reported.

An installation that was completed on Friday is for a future connection and "has no impact whatsoever on the current system's ability to safely receive gas and handle current LPG flows," Dr. Asante added.

A low volume of gas started flowing on Monday for the pigging process to clear the pipeline.

Upon commissioning, the plant will process about 16 million scf of gas per day. This will increase to 120 million scf at full capacity.