By Papisdaff Abdullah
President Nana Addo Akufo-Addo has charged the Ministry of Energy, the Petroleum Commission, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and the Licensing Rounds Committee to co-operate and ensure that activities under the maiden oil and gas licensing round are carried out in a transparent and efficient manner.
Speaking at the launch of the “Ghana Oil and Gas Licensing Round 2018”, which is going to permit the allocation of new petroleum rights, President Akufo-Addo noted that the 2016 manifesto of the New Patriotic Party pledged to “improve transparency in the management of our oil and gas resources”.
“It is, thus, an honor for me to be able, today, to implement this important commitment by launching this maiden bidding round”, the President said
President Akufo-Addo indicated, with that the last oil discovery, and the last exploration well drilled in 2014, it has meant that the pace of oil exploration has slowed considerably in the country.
“Given that production is taking place at a faster rate than reserves are being added, we need to reverse this state of affairs immediately, especially in today’s oil market environment, where crude oil prices are in the US$70 – US$80 per barrel range,” he said.
The President continued, “With the resolution of the maritime boundary dispute with Cote d’Ivoire, and the prevailing, transparent regime for allocating petroleum rights, many opportunities now exist for us to reverse the slow pace of oil exploration.”
Voltaian Basin Oil discovery
In furtherance of petroleum exploration activities, the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) is also making great progress in its efforts to discovering oil and gas deposits onshore in the Voltaian basin.
“Should these efforts prove successful, we are going to offer opportunities for partnership with the private sector to develop any reserves accumulated in the basin. This will not only have a positive impact on our oil production profile and on the revenues to the state, but also provide an opportunity to develop a new economic growth pole in northern Ghana when production of oil commences,” he indicated.
The President has also directed the Ministries of Energy, Finance and Environment, Science Technology and Innovation to draft and present to Parliament regulations on dealing with the adverse effects of the efforts at discovering oil in the Voltaian basis.
Additionally, the regulations, he said, should also address onshore oil and gas development and revenue distribution, respectively, to address proactively any potential contestations that may arise in these communities in the course of time, as these will also help minimize the risks of future investments in the area, and further help improve Ghana’s investment climate.
To accelerate further exploration activity, President Akufo-Addo has charged the Ministry of Energy to review critically existing operations in the industry, with the view to determining oil fields that are sub-optimal. The review also covers Petroleum Agreements that are dormant.
“The Ministry of Energy will engage with the operators, after the review, on the adoption of best methods for increasing oil recovery rate. For Petroleum Agreements that are dormant, the Ministry will encourage the operators to consider inviting stronger partners to join them or risk the termination of these Petroleum Agreements, should they persist in failing to meet their minimum work obligations,” President Akufo-Addo stressed.
Increased oil revenues
In seeking to increase Ghana’s oil reserves and improve on oil and gas production, Cabinet is expected to soon approve a ‘Blueprint and Roadmap for Accelerated Oil and Gas Exploration and Development’, which is based on a new strategy of aggressive exploration.
“The strategy seeks to build synergies with the domestic downstream petroleum sector; to increase Ghanaian participation in the oil industry; and to accelerate the pace of institutional capacity development to manage our oil and gas resources efficiently,” President Akufo-Addo said.
Re-emphasizing that the oil and gas industry, which is international in nature, requires the enforcement of stringent international standards in all aspects of the value chain, the President demanded that any person or company aspiring to participate in the industry must be cognisant of these requirements.
“Government will, on its part, continue to prioritize the development of skills of our youth and the Ghanaian entrepreneur through the AOGC programme, so they can meet international standards, and, thereby, become more competitive in the industry. My hope is that more Ghanaian companies will participate in the bidding process,” he said.
The President commended the Minister for Energy, John Peter Amewu, and his predecessor, Boakye Agyarko, and their teams for working assiduously to make this important process operational, as provided in Ghana’s Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act 2016 (Act 919).