At the end of November 2011 there were panicky headlines saying Ivory Coast Claims Ghana’s Oil Fields. This was not the first time. The claim had been published much earlier in the year and on examination it appeared more alarmist than serious at that time.
The more recent November reports in the newspapers were based on actions and claims made by Ivory Coast at the 18th Africa Oil Week conference in Cape Town between Nov. 2-4, and reported in Africa Energy Intelligence #663 in November. Africa Energy Intelligence requires a subscription. The report was repeated in Connectionivoirienne.net.
What follows is a google translation that includes the information from Africa Energy Intelligence N°663:
The oil war between Ghana and the Ivory Coast will she be?
Posted by The Editor · Connectionivoirienne.net
November 10, 2011 at 22:30
Tension mounts for the control of the offshore –
Read for yourself in the Intelligent d’Abidjan –
The 18th edition of the Africa Oil Week in Cape Town (from 2 to 4 November was an opportunity for the director of oil from Ivory Coast, Ibrahim Diaby, and the CEO of Petroc, Daniel Gnangni to present the new map of oil blocks in the country. A notable change has been introduced: five new licenses, ranging from CI 540 to 544, were drawn to the east of the Ivorian waters. These boundaries are superimposed on several blocks in Ghana, including Deepwater Tano, where Tullow Oil has made significant discoveries in 2008 and 2009, with Tweneboa and Enyenra. These two fields are already in a phase of development. Ghanaian ministers, including that of justice, march in Abidjan since September to try to clear the record. A document from the Ministry of Petroleum and Petroc was sent in early October to fourteen opéraeurs in territorial waters and the main Ivorian embassy to explain the position of the country. Requested by Africa Energy Intelligence, executives Ivorian Ministry of Energy indicate that for several decades, Côte d’Ivoire Ghana tries to associate the delimitation of the maritime boundary, but no agreement has never been reached. In Abidjan, Accra took advantage of the political crisis that has prevailed in Côte d’Ivoire since 2002 to allocate blocks in the disputed area of the offshore, particularly in Tullow. After trying to open talks, the president Alassane Ouattara now wants to force his neighbor to negotiate as soon as possible, that is to say, before Tweneboa and Enyenra come into production. Source: Africa Energy Intelligence
In the reports that came out the beginning of March, the oil companies dismissed the Ivory Coast claims.
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 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.
Jubilee field is the closest oil field to the Ivoirian border, and it is still 60 miles east of that border.
My conclusion then was that if the oil companies were not worried, there was no reason to worry. They would have determined these issues for themselves, to secure their investment before drilling.
More recently, in November it sounded as if the oil companies might be saying something different.
Ivory Coast Claims Ghana’s Oil Fields November 30 2011
Texas-based oil explorer, Kosmos Energy has expressed fears about the development. The oil producer says the future of a portion of its license in the Deepwater Tano Block is uncertain as the issue remains unresolved. Kosmos fears that if changes are made to the maritime boundary demarcation between Ghana and Ivory Coast, it may lose some of its license. It has 18% stake in the Deepwater Tano block in the Gulf of Guinea.
The Dzata-1 well and the Deepwater Tano fall within the same boundary. Currently Ghana is the rightful owner of the area, but Ivory Coast has petitioned the United Nations to demarcate the Ivorian territorial maritime boundary with Ghana. Even though the two countries met in April 2010 for negotiations on the matter, Kosmos says the results of the meeting were not announced and the issue remains unresolved at present.
“Uncertainty remains with regard to the outcome of the boundary demarcation between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire and we do not know if the maritime boundary will change, therefore affecting our rights to explore and develop our discoveries or prospects within such areas”, the Warburg Pincus and Blackstone Group (BX) backed company said in a filing form to the US Securities and Exchange Commission on April 25, 2011.
I wondered if the oil companies were leaning on Ghana in order to extract more profit. And I wondered if the US government might be behind that as well. As the wikileaks have shown us, most US diplomacy seeks to advantage US corporations. I was also certain Sarkozy was supporting Ouattara’s attempts to claim Ghana’s oil.
Barclays upgraded Kosmos in December 2011.
Ghana Jubilee oilfield partners buy FPSO vessel in January 2012.
Tullow aims for 120,000 bpd from Ghana early 2012 in December 2011.
These were the recent financial stories concerning Ghana, no worries here about boundary disputes with Ivory Coast. If the border dispute was a threat to the companies, it would show up in the financial news. The fact that there is no mention of the border issue leads me to think it is mostly a non-issue. At this point I believe Ouattara would like to stir up trouble in Ghana for President Mills (Ouattara holds a grudge for his perception of post election events) and both he and Sarkozy are greedy for oil. But Ghana does not really have much to worry about on this score. There is not that much to dispute about the border that will cause any problems with oil companies and oil licenses, though the border agreements do need to be finalized.