RULING ON THE MARITIME BOUNDARY DISPUTE; WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO GHANA ?

The uncertainty surrounding the verdict Ghanains were expecting from the International Maritime Tribunal on the boundary dispute with Ivory Coast may have been erased by now.

The International Tribunal on Saturday ruled that Ghana can continue developing the offshore oil project, but must not start any new drilling. It is just a ruling.

As widely noted, the decision is positive not one only for the government, but for Tullow which is leading a consortium of oil companies in developing the Tweneboa, Enyera, and Ntomme (TEN) project in an area caught up in the boundary dispute with Ivory Coast.

The country’s eastern border neighbour dragged Ghana to the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ILOS), asking it to issue a moratorium on oil activities by Ghana.

As has been clearly explained by the court, Saturday’s decision only dealt with the request to the court by Ivory Coast to stop Ghana from further exploitation in the area under dispute until the final decision in 2017.

The position of the court is that “An order suspending all exploration or exploitation activities conducted by or on behalf of Ghana in the disputed area, including activities in respect of which drilling has already taken place, would therefore cause prejudice to the rights claimed by Ghana”.

It is a wise ruling and goes to affirm the position held by Ghana from the beginning of the case.

The Times is glad that the court took into consideration the financial loss to Ghana, if it had granted any suspension of the on-going activities in the area.

As matters stand, we would be hoping that Ghana would prepare very well to present further evidence and arguments in May at the next stage of the hearing, which is expected to last until 2017.

The verdict, we are certain would allow Tullow to push ahead with the TEN project which were first approved in 2013.

We urge the government to move swiftly to implement all the measures that have been ordered by the court to enable work to continue unhindered.

We also hope that the two countries would heed the advice of the court and ‘pursue co-operation and refrain from any unilateral action that might lead to aggravating the dispute”.

It is important for the two countries to note that whether the court rules in favour or against any of them, they still need to live in peace.

The victory for Ghana at this stage is not an end to the case. It is just the beginning of a larger victory to come.

For us, it is an opening to what is likely to happen in the future. All Ghanaians, therefore, must be hopeful that Ghana would at the end of the proceedings emerge victorious.

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