Ghana’s Western neighbor Ivory Coast is reportedly laying claims to portions of the huge oil wealth in the deep waters of the Western Region.

Map with Dzata oil field and Jubilee field off Cape Three Points Ghana (click to enlarge)

In a move to save the situation, Ghana has begun an urgent move to pass a new law that seeks to establish the Ghana Boundary Commission to undertake negotiations to determine and demarcate Ghana’s land boundaries and de-limit Ghana’s maritime boundaries.

The news of Ivory Coast’s claim to parts of Ghana’s oil fields comes just days after United States operator Vanco struck oil in the deep-water Dzata-1 well, off Ghana’s Cape Three Points near Ivory Coast, further boosting the oil wealth in Ghana’s booming offshore Tano basin.
However the Hon Collins Dauda said he is confident Ghana and Ivory Coast will be able to resolve the matter without any conflict due to the good relations between the two countries. (GhanaWeb)

I surely hope the Hon. Collins Dauda is correct.

[UPDATE: Added March 5, from MyJoyOnline, see below for the rest of the article
Ivorian authorities are only calling for a negotiation of the maritime border between the two countries.]

The Vanguard tells us:

Industry sources say the crude found off Ghana is of a quality even easier to refine than the light, sweet crude found in Nigeria, one of the world’s largest oil producers.

Revenue derived from oil will be invested in the national power supply, with improvements to the road network and water supply, construction of a deep sea oil port and revamping railway lines, Atta-Mills said.

“These projects will not only create significant employment themselves but will also support the growth of other industries,” he told the parliamentarians

My Joy Online has a bit more detail on the dispute:

Head of Research at the Kofi Annan International Peace-Keeping Training Centre, Dr Kwesi Aning, says Ivory Coast’s claim to portions of Ghana’s oil fields exemplifies “a failure of the state institutions to protect our national interest.”

Dr Aning said there is a general lack of seriousness in ensuring the country’s boundaries are protected.

Ivory Coast has sent the government of Ghana a correspondence expressing outright disrespect for an existing “median line” that divides the two countries.

The Francophone country consequently served the United Nations with a similar correspondence saying it does not respect a temporary boundary between the two countries.

The Ghana Government is expecting Parliament to quickly deliberate on a bill that would establish a boundary commission to negotiate Ghana’s maritime boundaries with Ivory Coast.

The Ghana Boundaries Commission Bill has been sent to Parliament under a certificate of urgency, Lands and Natural Resources Minister Collins Dauda told the Super Morning Show on Thursday.

“A national boundaries commission will be put in place that would engage our neighbours in La Cote d’Ivoire with a view of negotiating our maritime boundary between ourselves and our brothers in Ivory Coast,” he said.

Dr Aning said the bill must be given a strong bi-partisan urgency to ensure that the country derives the most out of its oil resource.

The security expert is also recommending a solid technical documentation studied by lawyers with expertise on petroleum matters.

Diplomatic implications

The Lands and Natural Resources Minister says the emerging claim from Ivory Coast for portions of the oil fields in the Western Region is a very delicate matter.

Collins Dauda said the issue has serious international and diplomatic repercussions.

“We have not been able, as a country, to determine our boundary with Ivory Coast and there is the need for us to now determine the maritime boundary between Ghana and Ivory Coast,” he said.

Mr Dauda however said both countries have, for years, respected “a median line” between them that cannot be trespassed.

“All of a sudden, with the oil find, Ivory Coast is making a claim that is disrespecting this median line we have all respected. In which case we would be affected or the oil find will be affected,” he said.

Baseless claim

The Lands and Natural Resources Minister said the claim by Ivory Coast is baseless.

This, according to him, is because the claim by the Francophone country is rather parallel to certain internationally acceptable standards of determining maritime boundaries.”

Collins Dauda said, last year, Ghana appealed to the United Nations to extend its maritime boundary by 200 nautical miles.

As a precondition, the UN directed the country to negotiate boundaries with its neighbours, he disclosed.

Disrespect for ‘median line’

The latest turn of events may even be more surprising as Ivory Coast has already sent a correspondence to the Republic of Ghana, expressing disrespect for the median line the two countries have agreed upon for years.

Consequently, Ivory Coast has made a submission to the United Nations laying claim to portions of the Ghana’s oil find.

Drilling on the Dzata-1 well began almost a year ago, the map and photo, above and below, accompany this article from April 2009:

ACCRA, Ghana–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Government of the Republic of Ghana, the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Vanco Ghana Ltd. and LUKOIL Overseas Ghana Ltd., signed a new Petroleum Agreement, covering the Cape Three Points Deepwater block. This agreement will replace the existing Petroleum Agreement which expires at the end of April 2009. The new agreement provides Vanco and LUKOIL with the opportunity to continue the exploration of the area, during which new 3D seismic and additional drilling activities are planned. The new agreement also provides GNPC and the government of Ghana with significant commercial benefits, including higher royalty and increased GNPC participation. The new Petroleum Agreement also gives ownership of Associated Gas to the State.

The Aban Abraham drillship mobilized to Ghana to drill the Dzata Prospect. (Photo: Business Wire)

The Cape Three Points Deepwater block encompasses an area of 5,146 square kilometers in water depths ranging from 200 to 3,000 meters in the Tano Basin. Vanco (Operator) holds a 28.34% participating interest in the Cape Three Points Deepwater block with LUKOIL holding a 56.66% participating interest. GNPC, the state oil company, holds a 15% carried interest, with the option to acquire up to an additional 5% in any commercial discovery.

The new agreement comes as the Aban Abraham deepwater drillship departs Cape Town, South Africa after completing final retrofit operations to enable the unit to drill in water depths of up to 2,000 meters. The Aban Abraham will mobilize to Ghana to commence the Dzata-1 exploratory well by the end of April 2009.

Situated in 1,874 meters (6,148 feet) water depth, the Dzata Prospect is a large anticlinal structure with numerous Upper and Lower Cretaceous potential reservoir horizons and distinct direct hydrocarbon indicators, including flat spots and a “gas chimney.” The well will be drilled to a total depth of approximately 4,786 meters, or 2,912 meters below the mud line.

“The Aban Abraham drilling unit is finally ready to drill this exciting prospect where we are hopeful of a significant discovery,” says Vanco President, Gene Van Dyke. “Vanco and LUKOIL appreciate the assistance and support of GNPC and the Ministry of Energy in completing the new Petroleum Agreement which will allow the partnership to continue the aggressive exploration of the Cape Three Points Deep Water block.”

Vanco is a leading deepwater independent with activity in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea and the Ukrainian Black Sea.

——–

Added March 5:

Dzata 1 oil well is within Ghana’s boundary – Vanco Oil

The Chief Operating Officer of Vanco Limited, J.L Mitchell, operators of the Dzata- 1 Well, located offshore Ghana, in the Tano basin of the Cape three points Deep Water Block, has told Citi News that their block is well within the maritime boundaries of Ghana.

According to him, Vanco has no concern at all over reports that neighboring Ivory Coast is making claims for some parts of Ghana’s maritime Boundary.

The Dzata 1 discovery is the latest in addition to the Jubilee and other oilfields where significant hydrocarbons have been found.

There are speculations that the Dzata 1 discovery which is close to the Ivory Coast boundary may be a contributory factor to Cote D’Ivoire’s claims.

But Mr Mitchell told Citi News from his base in the US that that may not be the case since the Dzata Well is over 200 kilometers away from Ghana’s maritime boundary with cote-d’Ivoire.

“It’s very far; 200 kilometres away from the maritime boundaries and it doesn’t affect us one way or the other…It is well within the Ghanaian maritime boundary,” he said.

Meanwhile, Security Analyst Dr Kwesi Aning says Ghana must take a firm stance as it seeks to enter negotiations with the Ivorians and desist from using the humanitarian approach.

“More often than not, when these problems arise, there is a certain naivety on the Ghanaian side, a certain humanitarian approach, saying we are all brothers and all that – we are not brothers”.

“The Ivorians have a rationale choice attitude to this, they have made their calculations and they are willing to push this demand as far as possible to get what they want and I think it’s crucial that this bill is passed under the certificate of urgency and hopefully, the team that will be put together should be a bi-partisan group of technical experts with the requisite knowledge to ensure that this issue does not become a problem.” He told Citi FM.

He hinted that the Ivorians are better structured and coordinated; making them miles ahead of Ghana as far as the struggle for the demarcation is concerned

He, therefore, advised Government to ensure the passage of the law immediately and provide the requisite resources for a bi-partisan group to promote Ghana’s interest in the matter.

Dr Aning warned that if the right steps are not taken to deal with the situation immediately, Ghana and Ivory Coast may replicate the conflict that ensued between Nigeria and Cameroun over the Bakassi peninsula.

France may support Ivory Coast in Dzata oil debacle – Fellow
By Citifmonline.com | Fri 05th March, 2010 12:55 GMT

A Fellow at the Legon Centre for International Affairs, Dr Ken Ahorsu says the current scramble between Ghana and its neighbor Ivory Coast over the Dzata oil well is not irresolvable.

He has warned however that the French Government could support Ivory Coast against Ghana in the eventuality that the issue blows up beyond the sub-region.

He says the situation could be handled satisfactorily to avert a repeat of the Bakassi Peninsula incident as pertained between Cameroon and Nigeria.

Dr Ahorsu told Citi News that the African Union must first come into the fray before the matter is taken to other international platforms if possible. Ivory Coast has already made a complaint to the UN laying claim to the Dzata well discovered by Vanco oil recently in the Cape Three point fields.

“Ghana really has to do its home work because the Francophone countries have a very firm supporter in France. If you follow the court ruling of the Bakassi Penninsula between Nigeria and Cameroon, internationally everybody believed that France had a huge role to play that influenced the final outcome.

“I don’t want to suspect but I have this uneasy feeling that Ivory Coast might have started stirring the International waters, given the knowledge that they believe they have a supporter in the International system but…I have looked at it from the internet, I have looked at where the new oil is found by Vanco and I don’t think it’s within Ivorian waters.” He said.

According to him, the Government of Ghana has done the right thing by putting together a Border Commission to deal with the issue. Dr Ahorsu believes delimitation of the maritime boundaries between the two countries should not be a difficult task to carry out.

Vanco Ghana dismisses threat to Ghana’s find
Story by Fiifi Koomson/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

Petroleum exploration firm, Vanco Ghana Limited, has dismissed suggestions that its oil field in the Western Region is at the centre of a possible boundary dispute between Ghana and the Ivory Coast.

The company says its oilfield, known as Gyata 1, is so far away from the maritime boundary between the two countries that it cannot be the subject of any dispute.

Country manger of Vanco Limited, Kofi Afenu, says the Ivorian authorities are only seeking negotiations with Ghana over the Jubilee oilfield, which is owned by Kosmos.

Several miles away

“The distance between the boundary line and then the Gyata 1 well is more than 200 miles…quite far,” Mr Afenu told Joy News’ Sammy Darko.

The Vanco country manager is amazed at news making the rounds in some sections of the media that Ivorian authorities are demanding portions of Ghana’s oilfield.

According to him, the closest well to the Ivorian border is the Jubilee field which is some 60 miles away.

Under no circumstance will Ivory Coast lay claim to the Gyata 1 well which is several miles away, Mr Afenu indicated.

Confusion

The media may have blown the issue out of proportion or perhaps the minister sent the wrong impression to Ghanaians that Ivory Coast is demanding a portion of Ghana’s oil fields.

The facts as discovered by the Myjoyonline.com indicate the Ivorian authorities are only calling for a negotiation of the maritime border between the two countries.

La Cote d’Ivoire has not laid claim to any portion of Ghana’s maritime space, authorities indicate.

Meanwhile, Parliament is expected to quickly deliberate on a bill that would establish a boundary commission to negotiate Ghana’s maritime boundaries with Ivory Coast and other neighbouring countries.

The Ghana Boundaries Commission Bill has been sent to Parliament under a certificate of urgency, Lands and Natural Resources Minister Collins Dauda has said.

“A National Boundaries Commission will be put in place that would engage our neighbours in La Cote d’Ivoire with a view of negotiating our maritime boundary between ourselves and our brothers in Ivory Coast,” Mr Dauda said.

A map of the area in contention shows no part of Ghana’s oil field is in danger of a seizure.

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