controversy over a 1,4 billion dollar oil deal - Jeune Afrique

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The Ghanaian parliament has decided to take out a loan of 1,45 billion dollars for its oil company. But this decision is far from unanimous.

"And so a troubled West African country signed a windfall of several hundred million dollars for one of the richest men in one of the richest countries in the world. », Lamented the Ghanaian entrepreneur and activist Bright Simons in a column published recently in The Africa report.

One billion six hundred million dollars: this is the amount requested by the Ghanaian Minister of Energy, Matthew Prempeh, before Parliament in order to lend them to his oil company the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC). This loan should allow the purchase of stakes in oil blocks operated by two Norwegian companies Aker Energy and AGM.

Aker and AGM are two Norwegian companies owned by billionaire Kjell Inge Røkke

Concretely, the government wishes to acquire a direct and indirect participation of 37% in the Deepwater Tano / Cape Three Points block (DWT / CTP) from Aker Energy, and a 70% interest in the adjacent South Deepwater Tano (SDWT) block from AGM Petroleum.

Aker and AGM are two Norwegian companies owned by billionaire Kjell Inge Røkke, who made his fortune in shipping. Aker Energy is a 7,5/80 joint venture between Aker, a $ XNUMX billion oil company over XNUMX% owned by Kjell Inge Røkke, and a family holding company, TRG. AGM Petroleum is wholly owned by TRG.

Cap at $ 1,4 billion

One billion three hundred million dollars will allow the repurchase of participation in oil blocks, and 350 million dollars will be used to cover development costs of the Pecan field, which could produce oil by 2024.

Discoveries could add 200 barrels per day to Ghanaian oil capacity

However, after several meetings and deliberations, Parliament decided to reduce the funding from $ 1,3 billion to $ 1,1 billion. The amount of $ 350 million for the Pecan field is maintained. Thus, the Ghanaian Parliament paved the way for the government to borrow $ 1,45 billion to invest in the oil sector.

According to the Energy Ministry, the agreement will result in the formation of a joint operating company with Aker Energy, AGM and GNPC Exploraco, the operating subsidiary of the Ghanaian oil company.

"The discoveries made in the two blocks could add 200 barrels per day to Ghana's oil capacity within four to five years, nearly double the current production," said Matthew Prempeh. "The value of the two operating licenses was estimated between 000 and 2 billion dollars", continues the latter.

A "terrifying" amount

But the plans of the government of President Nana Akufo-Addo are far from unanimous. According to activist Bright Simons, the two blocs' estimates weren't done correctly.

According to him, if the risk analysis of the project and the price of oil had been reasonable over the long term, the correct estimate of the necessary investment would have been between 350 and 450 million dollars. However, "the gap between these figures and the amount of 1,1 billion dollars that the government of Ghana is prepared to pay is terrifying", explains the entrepreneur.

By lending this money, the government increases the national debt by 5%

“Ghana is advised to slow down this mind-blowing plan to increase the wealth of Norwegian billionaires and accumulate hundreds of millions of dollars in new debt and financial risk in the process,” says Bright Simons.

In addition, an alliance made up of fifteen associations from civil society was outraged by this agreement. "By lending this money, the government increases the national debt by 5%," said the latter in a column published in the Ghanaian press.

Last but not least, Russian oil company Lukoil, which owns a 38% stake in the Deepwater Tano Cape Three Points block (DWT / CTP), said it was not made aware of the possible sale of Aker Energy's shares to GNPC.

Negotiations in progress

Faced with these concerns, the Minister of Energy wanted to be reassuring "We can confirm that GNPC has the financial support and the technical skills necessary to acquire the stakes under discussion and to participate in the operating company, which will remain unchanged".

For the Ghanaian government, it is above all a question of taking guarantees for the future, in the event that the current majority shareholders of the project, engaged in a "Green turning", would decide to reconsider the production of the two sites.

We need to correct this impression that a price has been determined

“Western countries have extracted oil from their backyards and from our fields, and now want us to leave ours there. As a national of a developing country, I find it very difficult to accept this situation […]. If they take the investments away from us, it means that we will not be able to develop our fields and that our oil will remain in the ground, ”said GNPC general manager Kofi Koduah Sarpong.

“So we have to correct this impression that a price has been determined. This is not the case, we are discussing, negotiating and agreeing on the price. Parliament, in its wisdom, has set a ceiling which we must not exceed. I want to commend Parliament for giving the minister a threshold. Thus, the claim that a price has been determined is wrong, ”Kofi Koduah Sarpong pointed out.

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