Ghana risks losing an estimated 15 billion dollars in oil revenues, if it does not negotiate a new agreement with Aker Energy, Ghana, on the new oil discovery in the Deepwater Tano Cape Three Points Block, IMANI Africa has cautioned.
According to the think tank, the Petroleum Agreement (PA), covering the new discovery –worth more than $30 billion– expired in 2014 and by law, did not automatically fall under the company’s PA, with the government.
At a media engagement in Accra yesterday, Senior Vice President of IMANI, Kofi Bentil asked the government not to approve Aker Energy’s Plan of Development, submitted for approval last month, in its current form.
If the government failed to reject the $4.4 billion plan by close of today, Friday, he said the plan would be automatically approved as indicated by law , since the 30-day waiting period for approval, would have elapsed.
Earlier this year, Aker Energy Ghana, the local unit of the Norwegian company which acquired the oil field from Hess Ghana, another oil company, announced that it had discovered the biggest oil find in Africa –of 450 to 550 barrels.
The find, with potential recoverable reserves of nearly one billion barrels, per current crude prices of 65 dollars per barrel, is estimated to be at least 30 million dollars.
According to Mr Bentil, the new discoveries, by law, ought to be negotiated under a new PA as stipulated by the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act, 2016 Act 919 but the government seemed uninterested in the gains.
He said if the government failed to clarify circumstances surrounding the agreement with Aker Energy, IMANI and its associates would go to court to seek declaration on the ownership on the discovery.
He queried why the government and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) had failed to take up additional interest in blocks controlled by Aker although they were approved by parliament and finances earmarked.
Mr Bentil raised red flags over the government’s soft handling of the oil company, citing an instance where Aker had unilaterally decided to extend its production after 2036 without permission to the government.
He criticised government over its failure to take steps to protect or derive revenue from its natural resources and called on the President and parliament to ensure that the country was not short changed.
“It is baffling that we have not seen serious moves to protect this find or even assert Ghana’s right to it. Aker seem to be calling all the shots”, Mr Bentil asserted.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR