Tsatsu Tsikata and George Owusu have been extraordinarily influential in guiding and developing the quest for oil in Ghana.

Oil rig from GhanaWeb photo archive

I recently came across articles that praise each of them and will copy both complete articles below.Both are puff pieces in that they speak only to the good in their subjects, and address none of the questionable issues. There is much more to the stories of both men. Most of the published information about either man is heavily slanted by political opinion. So one has to read a great many stories, and then try to read between the lines and sort out what looks like the truth. Nevertheless, despite obvious bias, both articles below are interesting and informative.

I am fairly certain Ghana’s current oil finds were enabled by the fact that the technology now exists for deep water drilling, and the price of oil makes deep water wells economically practical. Without those two features in place, credit or blame for Ghana producing oil or not are somewhat irrelevant.

The Kufuor NPP government spent 6 years trying to put Tsatsu Tsikata in jail. They finally did near the end of their term, but he has since been released.

More recently George Owusu has encountered difficulties with the current NDC government. I am not certain about the accuracy of the information in the linked story about Kosmos’ share, dated Nov. 16. It presents a rather interesting picture of what has been happening regarding the Ghana government, Kosmos, Exxon and the Chinese.

Herewith, the two profile articles describing these giants of Ghana oil:

Oil find in Ghana – Sam Jonah Praises GNPC
16 September 2009
Sam Jonah

I have followed with keen interest the news of a commercial oil find in Ghana and the optimism that it has engendered in the country.

There is a welcome buoyancy in the mood of many Ghanaians as they look forward to being an oil-producing country.

There are many people and institutions that deserve credit for the oil find — members of staff of the GNPC through to its present staff and of course to the public that patiently supported the difficult, protracted but unavoidable exploration effort.

There is indeed enough credit to go round.

I cannot therefore help being disappointed that amidst all the celebrations, no mention is made of the pioneering role of Tsatsu Tsikata.

When I compare the exciting prospects generated by the discovery with the state of affairs 20-odd years ago, I am reminded of the contrast between the situation of the mining sector before and after the implementation of the reforms of the mid-1980s.

I first joined the board of the Minerals Commission in September 1984. At that time, the mining sector was in a parlous state.

As a result of the work done by a few dedicated people under the leadership of Kofi Ansah, the sector was completely transformed in less than a decade.

In the mining sector, we at least had the benefit of over 100 years of mining and considerable technical expertise.

The oil sector in the early 1980s did not enjoy any such stature. I recall the scepticism with which prospects of Ghana finding oil in commercial quantities was greeted at the time.

I remember in 1985, while on a trip to the U.S., asking a chief executive of one of the major oil companies why they were not showing interest in searching for oil in Ghana.

His response was that their geophysicists had told them that our geological structures were too tight and too badly faulted to host significant reservoirs.

Today, we know just how wrong those geophysicists were. One man who defied the prevailing scepticism of the time and, with a persistence bordering on stubbornness, led the efforts to get us where we are today, is Tsatsu Tsikata.

Indeed, when I shared with him, shortly after it was made, the observation by the chief executive of the oil major, Tsatsu’s response was: “Let’s all wait and see”.

Tsatsu led in the rethinking of petroleum sector policy. He led in crafting the petroleum (Exploration and Production) law that was the “investment code” for the oil sector.

He led in drafting model exploration agreements including fiscal regime and Accounting Guide that is still state-of-the-art 20 years later.

He led in the development of a specific Petroleum Income Tax Law.

Beyond this intellectual and professional contribution Tsatsu emerged as a corporate leader — building GNPC itself from the ground up.

His vision was sufficiently infectious to attract even hard-nosed oil men to work on Ghana’s potential, often with very little reward.

However, it is in his identification, recruitment and promotion of local talent that Tsatsu truly excelled.

He was truly passionate about building the capacity of Ghanaian professionals in the sector.

Companies and government’s that had dealings with GNPC were pressured into funding scholarships and providing or funding attachments for GNPC staff and even staff from related MDAs.

Tsatsu foresaw that this investment would in its own way be as valuable to Ghana as any oil find. And history has proved him right.

Today, even before the first oil has flowed, Ghana has a solid cadre of industry professionals ready, given the opportunity, to lead us into the next phase of oil industry development.

We have seasoned exploration geologists and geophysicists, drilling engineers, field development engineers.

We have specialised market and financial analysts and lawyers. In the late 1980s GNPC was already developing boat and helicopter services expertise for production operations. In the 1980s (20 years before the West African Gas Pipeline and before climate change became a global preoccupation), GNPC was training staff in the economics and management of natural gas.

Tsatsu was relentless, even obsessive, about the meticulous exploration of Ghana’s oil potential.

He recognised that geological and geophysical data were essential preconditions for any serious effort to attract private capital into exploration efforts.

He thus focused GNPC’s meagre resources on an ambitious data project.

GNPC scoured corporate and public archives around the world collecting geological and seismic materials, data and analysts from earlier exploration efforts.

GNPC then constructed the most complete database of seismic information about Ghana anywhere in the world.

Then through a joint venture with the Norwegian state oil company, GNPC seismologists began to reprocess and re-analyse this data using new technology. Tsatsu did not stop with old data.

He worked with state oil companies from Canada (Petro-Canada International), Norway (Statoil) and Brazil (Petrobras) and Nigeria (NNPC’s seismic subsidiary) to acquire new data.

Through these bilateral arrangements GNPC staff became familiar with modern technology such as “3-D” seismic surveys.

Eventually, Tsatsu persuaded these collaborators to support GNPC’s acquisition of the expensive computer technology to enable her Ghanaian explorationists to undertake much of this analysis in Ghana.

This in turn provided a platform for a massive upgrade of GNPC’s computer technology with positive impacts on all other sectors of its work and with distinct benefits for example for Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

It was the availability of this extensive database and the challenging analyses of old data by Ghanaian geophysicists working under Tsatsu that made Ghana such an attractive exploration destination in the mid-’80s despite earlier scepticism.

It was the ceaseless interpretation and re-interpretation of the GNPC’s growing geological and geophysical database inspired by and supervised by Tsatsu that identified many new prospects.

Tsatsu literally set the course of Ghana’s exploration drilling for an entire generation. Those who worked with him in the sector are in a better position than I to give further details.

But I saw enough to be able to say that his investment in institution building and in exploration have contributed immensely to the recent discoveries at Cape Three Points.

For the health of our nation, for the sake of posterity and the development of a culture that recognises selfless and dedicated service, we must all acknowledge the immense contribution that Tsatsu made to the development of the petroleum sector.

It is not too late to do so.

* * *

History of Oil Discovery In Ghana-The EO Groups Role!!!
19 November 2009
Afrikan Post USA (no author named)

Since independence it has been part of every government’s policy to explore Ghana’s hydrocarbon deposits.

Historically, exploration for oil and gas reserves in Ghana had been very limited due to the high risk nature of its terrain and low oil price environment in 2004 when the Kosmos /E.O group made initial contact with GNPC.

Between 1898 to the late nineties an estimated hundred exploration wells had been drilled in Ghana with no significant discovery except for the Saltpond oil find in 1970.

Our expert opinion on the recent oil discovery in Ghana is that it should be seen as a blessing that should serve as a catalyst to drive investment to the country.

It is imperative that we give credit to Ghanaians who have at various times facilitated the inflow of investors into Ghana.

It is an established historical fact that the US diasporans have been trail blazers of solid investment to Ghana. Tribute should be paid to Mr.Ken Ofori- Atta who established the Ghana stock exchange (Databank) in Ghana. Dr. Manny Tuffour who established the Aniwaa Hospital at a location near Kumasi, Mr. Kofi Amoah who brought Western Union to Ghana and many others in various professional disciplines.

Credit also goes to Mr.Tsatsu Tsikata, former Chief Executive of GNPC, Mr.Sekyere Abankwah, Mr. Moses Boateng and the exploration team led by Nana Boakye Asafu-Adjaye and supported by the Mr.Thomas Manu for their untiring efforts in promoting Ghana’s hydrocarbon potential overseas in the past.

In recent times some noble Ghanaian professionals who have a clear and documented track record of Humanitarian assistance to Ghana dating back to the nineties during President Rawlings era are being placed under the political radar for their roles in facilitating investment in the oil sector. Their honorable reputation is being ripped apart when factual and verifiable information is available.

Here are some facts gathered from our expert investigations into the activities of E.O Group. The E.O group is wholly owned by two Ghanaians being Mr. George Yaw Owusu and Dr. Kwame Bawuah -Edusei.

Dr. Kwame Bawuah- Edusei is a physician trained in Ghana and specialized in Family Medicine in The US. He is a known community leader who worked as a private physician partner in various medical clinics until he opened his own in Alexandria, Virginia. In 1994 he took a medical team to Ghana to work in deprived areas and small villages around the Volta Lake, Buduburam refugee camp, Nima in Accra , Akwatia Zongo and other places.

Dr.Kwame Bawuah- Edusei later initiated medical missions to the Northern parts of Ghana as a follow up.

George Owusu on the other hand is a trained Environmental scientist and worked in the energy industry for about twenty years and rose to the rank of Commodity manager for Shell oil Company in the US. He was a known community leader in Houston, Texas at the time of his retirement.

It is on record that the E.O Group partners distributed ICT equipments, books, office furniture and others to various traditional bodies to the youth in Ghana in the late 1990.

Inspite of their humanitarian efforts the partners in 1999 embarked on a job creation venture to reduce poverty. Their first business venture was the formation of E-link Inc. in 1999 to use satellite technology to transfer data between West Africa and United States. The other partners in this venture were Mr. Kwabena Darko of Darko Farms and one Mr.Yaw Sarpong. The venture folded in 2001 due to some challenges.

Mr. George Yaw Owusu and Dr. Bawuah-Edusei regrouped to form the E.O group in 2002 to focus on the potential energy industry in Ghana.

The following companies had been to Ghana for exploration activities without success: NUEVO 1998, Dana 1999, Hunt oil 1999, Fusion oil and gas from Australia in 1999, Santa Fe, 2000. Unfortunately all the wells drilled by these companies yielded no viable commercial discoveries.

The oil industry worldwide therefore regarded Ghana as a place too risky and expensive and their petroleum agreements business unfriendly. It is against this background that the E.O Group sought to convince international oil companies to come to Ghana and overcome all the biases of Africa and invest in what had become known as the “grave yard”

In 2001 with the help of the Greater Houston Partnership, a major business group in Houston, Texas dedicated to the promotion of Business between Houston, Texas companies and the rest of the world,Mr. George Owusu organized a conference in Houston to enable Ghana’s energy experts from GNPC and the Energy ministry address the industry on the offshore hydrocarbon potentials in the Country. Many companies in Texas and the rest of the World attended the conference. The E.O Group facilitated a visit to Ghana by Vanco Energy.

As a result of the E.O groups interaction with industry experts in both Ghana and the USA they stepped up their effort to find a suitable partner for a prospecting lease with the Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC). The group was able to partner with Ennex Energy of Ireland who came to Ghana but Ennex gave up on the deal as they evaluated Ghana too risky to invest. The EO group solicited interest from many companies including Texaco, Oxy, Shell, Hess, Addax Petroleum of Switzerland and the Chinese oil company but they were all reluctant due to the risk.

Talking about risk, it costs one million dollars a day to drill an oil well. It can cost up to 80 million dollars to drill one oil well.

In December 2003,Mr. George Owusu came into contact with the Technical personnel of Kosmos Energy whose primary focus was to explore for high risk petroleum prospects in Africa. This group all previously of Triton Energy found oil in Equatorial Guinea in 1999.

The E.O group and Kosmos then formed a partnership to review data in Ghana and initiate the negotiation of a Petroleum Agreement. When in 2004 the Kosmos / E.O group submitted an application for the West Cape Three Points Block, two other companies being Africa Petroleum and Sahara Petroleum submitted their applications for the same block. GNPC after the necessary due diligence approved the application from the Kosmos/E.O Group. The Kosmos /E.O Group therefore won on merit particularly due to their proven track record, financial base and the caliber of experts behind them.

The E.O Group and Kosmos on the sidelines entered into private negotiations and E.O was entitled to 3.5% working interest. They could have asked for a higher percentage in accordance with industry practice. The 3.5% is a private arrangement with Kosmos Energy and not the Ghana Government.

The agreement between Kosmos / E.O Group and GNPC was in accordance with the Ghana Petroleum Law and was approved by the GNPC Board, the ministry of Energy, and upon approval by Cabinet was presented for ratification by Parliament in July 2004.

Neither of the partners of the E.O group, Dr. Kwame Bawuah-Edusei and Mr.George Yaw Owusu were party nor Government officials during these negotiations till approval in July 2004.

It took the Kosmos /EO Group three years from agreement signing in 2004 to oil find in the deep waters of Ghana in June 2007 which is now a record in Africa. It is also possibly one of the largest oil finds in the last decade offshore West Africa

All the four wells drilled by the Kosmos/E.O group encountered significant accumulation of hydrocarbons.

Later in 2006 Kosmos Energy added Anadarko Energy as partner to the WTCP block.

It is worth noting that after the negotiations and agreement was signed in July 2004 Dr. Kwame Bawuah-Edusei sacrificed and took an appointment as Ambassador to UN in Geneva, Switzerland/Austria in August 2004 and in September 2006 he was made Ambassador to the United States.

As a physician in the Diaspora it was a big pay cut. His duty tour ended on February 15, 2009. Within these five years the E.O group had been inactive and Mr. George Owusu had taken over the few affairs of the Group.

Dr. Kwame Bawuah-Edusei who a very respected and influential personality within the Ghanaian community has gone back to his medical practice in the Washington Metro Area. He has also moved back to the House he purchased about fourteen years ago where he lived before his appointment as Ambassador.

Our expect investigations have also revealed that Anadarko, one of the partners in the Jubilee field waited till oil discovery and requested a comprehensive review of Kosmos and the E.O group’s operations which both partners gave their maximum cooperation. The New Government in Ghana has also conducted their review which E.O Group has fully been cooperative. Prior to Dr.Kwame Bawuah-Edusei’s appointment he was in no doubt screened by Ghana, Swiss, Austria, United Nations and the United States security apparatus with a clean record. His tenure in the US was exemplary. The E.O Group has thus been transparent in all their activities.

Considering the undeniable facts in the midst of the political rumblings on the activities of the E.O group I believe the Government of Ghana should round it up and take a positive stance in ensuring that the Country would leap to a middle income status.

There is no need to politicize the good intentions of our honorable citizens because it makes it a disincentive to future investment prospects. Ghanaians living in the Diaspora have been involved in life saving events in Ghana and their efforts must be applauded.

Let us not crisscross corporate greed and misplaced politics to mar our God given potentials.

The E.O Group participation solidifies local content and must be lauded in our efforts to promote long and sustainable investment in Ghana.

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On October 8 Richard Ellimah published the following on GhanaWeb, which articulates many of the important questions for Ghanaians regarding the exploitation of oil resources:
Environmental Impact Assessment Of Jubilee Field And Matters Arising

Ghana Oil truck and worker

Ghana Oil truck and worker

The public hearings which are a mandatory part of the processes towards securing a permit to start oil drilling are almost over. At least, all the oil affected districts – Jomoro, Ellembele, Nzema East, Ahanta West, Shama and Sekondi-Takoradi – have had the opportunity to interrogate the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of Tullow Oil and her partners.

Judging from press reportage of the hearings, some critical issues need addressing. First of all, it is obvious that people within the six districts that will be affected barely have enough information about the oil that has been discovered close to them. They therefore are incapable of participating in processes that would help them deal with any possible impacts that will occur. The information they have does not go beyond the rudimentary chorus of “Ghana has discovered oil”. Information is absolutely necessary to enable affected people make crucial choices. Absence of information produces half-truths. As people who will suffer potential impacts of the oil industry, they have a democratic right to information. For instance, to what extent has the district assemblies been updating communities on the impacts of the oil discovery to enable a more coherent response to be prepared? Already, fisher folk in these districts have started suffering some impacts. They have been instructed to steer clear of a particular radius of the oil rig. Incidentally, all the fish appear to have taken cover in areas close to the rig, making it difficult for the fishermen to get them without incurring the displeasure of the navy that patrols our territorial waters.

Furthermore, the public hearings have re-opened debate about environmental impact assessments. Judging from what happens in the mining sector, these are highly technical reports which even the average educated person cannot read and understand, let alone interrogate. The Non-Technical Executive Summary alone of the Jubilee Field EIA is 62 pages. Public hearings are supposed to be an avenue for the oil companies to tell the people how their operations will impact them and the measures that have been proposed to deal with these impacts. At these hearings, the public can question portions of the report that, in their opinion, are unsatisfactory and proceed to make inputs into it. These inputs are then taken onboard in the design of an Environmental Management Plan which the companies are expected to submit to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Unfortunately because capacity is low at the local level, the public most times, make little or no inputs at all into the process. Sometimes, the few educated people may also raise issues which are either over-blown because they have not had time to look at the report and make informed comments, or simply make comments out of ignorance. Probably this calls for a review of the design process of the EIA so that it can be disseminated to community groups in a language they understand, over a period of time so that they will be fully armed to question the process. These one-day public hearings where uninformed people are expected to comment on technical documents do not help. One is tempted to describe the process as being only cosmetic. Simplifying the process is critical to enlightening affected people on the potential benefits and problems. When actual drilling begins, they would therefore have been armed and well prepared for the impacts.

Another major concern is the over-concentration of all activities in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis. Curiously, all literature about the oil find acknowledges Takoradi as potentially the most impacted community. Indeed, the non-technical executive summary of the EIA of the Jubilee Field only acknowledges Takoradi Metropolis and Shama District as the most impacted communities. A comprehensive population profiling has been done for these two communities in the document, curiously leaving out the three Nzema Districts and Ahanta-West District. Though attempts have been made to address this in the main technical document, it is still not enough to assuage this unpardonable error. At this stage of project development, it is dangerous to give any group of people the impression that they are being marginalised. As a result of the undue emphasis on Takoradi and Shama District, interventions have been narrowly designed to address their socio-economic problems. It is undisputable that Takoradi is the major urban centre with all the facilities and services that can support the industry. It also does not take away the fact that other satellite communities need to be developed. The best way to do this is to re-locate some of the functions and activities concentrated in Takoradi to communities like Axim, Essiama, Agona Nkwanta and Half-Assini. This, apart from decongesting the Metropolis will also lead to a spread of infrastructural development in the other districts. This requires a concerted policy direction from government to address the imbalances in settlement development in the region.

The oil companies have committed themselves to undertaking rigorous corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a way of ameliorating the impact of their activities on the communities. There is no doubt that oil drilling will have some socio-economic and environmental impacts, though much of the drilling will take place offshore. Designing a comprehensive, community-sensitive and coordinated corporate social responsibility programme will go a long way to help. Historically, CSR has been a voluntary initiative by industry. Current practice has called for a radical review of the way CSR is conceptualised. For instance, in the mining industry CSR has been used as a balm for soothing community demands for fairness in their dealings with the mining companies. More often than not, companies have undertaken social responsibility projects more as a deliberate attempt at boosting their corporate image rather than a genuine effort to address community concerns about their operations. To make it more practical and relevant, I propose that legislation on social responsibility should be passed. Like happens in the forestry sector, companies wishing to undertake oil exploration and drilling should be compelled to sign social responsibility agreements with their catchment communities. This initiative will serve two purposes. Firstly, it will ensure bottom-up development planning by encouraging the fullest participation of ordinary community people in deciding what kind of development they want. Doing this will ensure that resources are channelled to areas where they are specially needed. Besides legislating CSR in the oil sector, there is also the need for a more coordinated approach to providing projects within the oil catchment areas. The district assemblies in these areas should not under any circumstances be sidelined in the provision of CSR. I propose that every CSR endeavour must find space in the Medium Term Development Plans of the district assemblies. This way, development will be better coordinated and ensure that resources are channelled to priority areas of development.

The other concern that the EIA presents is the human resource requirement for the project. According to the report, 760 people will be employed in the initial development phase of the project. This figure will however, drop to 300 during actual drilling. My concern is not with the number but the fact that 50 percent of this 300 will be expatriates before the percentage drops to 10 percent within four to eight years. What this effectively means is that between 4 – 8 years of the project life, only 150 Ghanaians can be employed in the oil business. The 50 percent expatriate participation is extremely high considering that Ghana has enough capacity to handle some of the middle-level positions that the companies will be requiring. The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) that has been in the oil business for more than 20 years has enough trained Ghanaians who can handle any position in the companies. Some of these Ghanaians have even supported the oil sector of countries like Qatar, Gabon, Angola, Nigeria, United Arab Emirates and Mozambique. We do not need to wait for eight years to put Ghanaians in positions where their expertise can be utilised.

Finally, there is the absolute need for transparency in the oil industry. Transparency here does not only refer to revenues that will accrue to government and other stakeholders but also includes transparency in terms of the disclosure of the content of all agreements our governments have signed with the companies. Full disclosure will clear doubts that the country’s interests have been sacrificed for a pittance. This is where civil society groups must be more proactive. They should not wait for these agreements to be signed and operationalised before raising the red flag. Right from the beginning they should engage the stakeholders to ensure that the country is not short-changed.

Ghana cannot afford the luxury of waiting for another generation to correct mistakes that it has committed in the prudent management of her resources. Next door neighbour Nigeria has a lot to teach us about what can happen if the right structures are not put in place in the management of oil. If Nigeria is too extreme an example, let us consider what over a century of mining has done to the country.

The author is a Development Practitioner and resides in Obuasi. He can be reached on Post Office Box UPO 853, KNUST-Kumasi; or on telephone 0244-514559; and by email on richellimah (at) yahoo.com.
photo credit
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From the comments on the article:

Ghanaba Papa: Good Comment:

The traditional councils in the impacted areas should also be part of the monitoring and reporting on the effectiveness of the Environmental Management Plans. Also, the impact of the oil activities on agriculture (fishing), as you allude to, nust be fully addressed and mitigated.

Slugger reemphasizs the final paragraph: Way Forward:

Ghana cannot afford the luxury of waiting for another generation to correct mistakes that it has committed in the prudent management of her resources. Next door neighbour Nigeria has a lot to teach us about what can happen if the right structures are not put in place in the management of oil. If Nigeria is too extreme an example, let us consider what over a century of mining has done to the country.

I know: CSR:

The CSR personnel at Tullow are actually not CSR experts. They were put there for political expediency. At best, they are only Public Relations Practitioners, and not professionally trained Social Impact Assessors.

Any good environmental and social impact assessment should profile communities “directly impacted” by the extractive industry, be it mining or oil and gas exploration, construction and production. And the assessment must include environmental, economic, social, cutural, and health impacts, and detail mitigative measures that would be put in place to ameliorate the negative impacts, as well measures to advance income enhancement and community development interventions necessary for sustainable development. These are lacking in the draft EIS.

Reading through the draft EIS,it is apparent that the team is heavily skewed for marine engineers than social assessors. And that is the cause of the flaw.

It is not too late to amend. Otherwise we are heading for another Ogoni!!! Who knows whether it is deliberate. I dont trust these guys, anyway.

Marcus Ampadu: REMEMBER KEN SARO-WIWA:

Environmental groups in Ghana should organize and position themselves to closely monitor the ecological consequences of the oil exploration and drilling in the affected areas. One activity we shouldn’t allow is gas flaring.
We shouldn’t wait for something terrible to happen environmentally to tragically get our version of Ken Saro-Wiwa of Blessed Memory.

There is more in the comments discussing these issues.

Over at Say It Loud Patriot Turncoat writes:

A Model for a Petrochemical Industry in Ghana

Ghana expects to generate about $3.5 billion a year in revenue from the export of crude oil. For a country with a population of 25 million, this translates to only about $140 per person per annum, as compared to some middle-eastern countries where tens of thousands of dollars are generated per person from the mere export of raw crude oil.

In other words, if Ghana were to focus merely on exporting raw crude oil, there would not be enough money to make all Ghanaians happy, so a few would be made happy at the expense of many; a recipe for resentment and political agitation, more so given the high expectations.

We can however make a large number of Ghanaians happy by facilitating and creating the right business environment for the establishment of petrochemical industries to add value to crude oil. Such an industry would provide employment for many while generating higher returns due to the value-add. For the African and world market, Ghana could produce assorted chemicals, insecticides, fertilizers, plastics, engine oil, machine lubricants, power steering fluids, detergents and soaps, paints and varnishes, pharmaceutical chemicals and many more. After all, merely exporting crude would only feed the petrochemical industries of foreign nations, generating more employment for their citizenry while our citizens are left unemployed and destitute.

We are all aware of how exporting raw cocoa, without first adding value, has fed the chocolate industries of developed nations at the expense of our economy. Same applies to other raw material exports. …

Fortunately, Ghana does not have to reinvent the wheel. There are working models all around the world which Ghana could adopt and adapt to address her specific needs.

For example, we could model Ghana’s petrochemical industry after Houston’s Spaghetti bowl which has several miles of pipe-lines connecting salt domes, fractionation plants, chemical plants, and refineries. The pipeline system emerged under private ownership in the 1940s to feed an ethylene production industry, thus paving the way for Houston’s petrochemical industry which provides employment to millions.

Patriot Turncoat has some good ideas, but shows an uncritical faith in free markets. Recent events in global capitalism demonstrate the need for some skepticism and oversight.

Today there are further developments in the issue of the sale of Kosmos’s stake in the Jubilee Field.

Kosmos’s Ghana sale bid “illegal” -GNPC source

ACCRA, Oct 12 (Reuters) – State-run Ghana National Petroleum Corp (GNPC) has told Kosmos Energy that it does not recognise a deal to sell its stake in the Jubilee oil field to Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) as it was illegal, a NGPC source said.

The source, who declined to be named, also said that Ghana had received expressions of interest from the China National Offshore Oil Corp for Kosmos’s stake but the West African state was ready to buy it all and decide later with whom to partner.

The Jubilee field is one of the largest oil finds in West Africa in the past decade and sources said last week that Exxon Mobil had reached a multibillion-dollar agreement with Kosmos to buy its stake in the field. (Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Writing by David Lewis)

And this story has also popped up today:

Fight For Ghana’s Oil: Exxon vs China

… China, Ghana petroleum co in talks
… Kosmos To Sell To Exxon Mobil: WSJ
… GNPC says Kosmos sale bid illegal
… Officials in Ghana says no approval yet
… GNPC ready to buy entire Kosmos stake
… Morgan Stanley hired to advice

A Kosmos official confirmed that the energy firm has a “binding deal” in place to sell an interest in the potentially vast Jubilee oil field in offshore Ghana to oil major Exxon Mobil.

The deal — valued at an estimated $4 billion — would mark Exxon Mobil’s largest acquisition in about a decade.

It comes amid reports that China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) – see report below – could also bid on assets off the coast of Ghana.

Kosmos Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Greg Dunlevy said in an e-mail to MarketWatch, “I can confirm that Kosmos has entered into an exclusive, binding agreement with (an affiliate of Exxon Mobil) to make a rival bid for Kosmos’ stake in the field, known as Jubilee.”

China National Offshore Oil Corp is in talks with State-run Ghana National Petroleum Corp to bid for a stake in a large oil discovery off West Africa, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing unnamed sources.

The offer for Kosmos Energy’s stake in the discovery, Jubilee, would rival a $4 billion bid by Exxon Mobil Corp, the Journal said. The paper said CNOOC and GNPC plan to submit a strong competing bid in the next few days, citing one person familiar with the matter.

According to the Journal, the Chinese company sent some senior officials to Ghana several weeks ago, including CNOOC Chairman Fu Chengyu. The paper said CNOOC committed to an equity stake for GNPC in the deal and discussed helping the Ghanaians develop their national oil company.

State-run Ghana National Petroleum Corp (GNPC) believes Kosmos Energy’s deal to sell its stake in the huge Jubilee oil field to Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) is illegal and is ready to buy the stake itself, a GNPC source said on Monday.

Ghana has received expressions of interest from the China National Offshore Oil Corp for Kosmos’s stake, according to the source, who declined to be named. But the West African state is ready and able to make the purchase on its own, and would decide later with whom to partner.

The Jubilee field is one of the largest oil finds in West Africa in the past decade and sources said last week that Exxon Mobil had reached a multibillion-dollar agreement with Kosmos to buy its stake in the field.

“We have formally notified (Kosmos) that we do not recognise whatever agreement they reached with Exxon — we told them we disapprove of it because it’s illegal,” the GNPC source said.

The source said Kosmos had violated Ghanaian laws when it shared confidential exploration data with over 20 companies for its own commercial purposes without giving the GNPC any prior notification.

Ghana is due to start pumping oil from Jubilee in late 2010 and the country’s oil finds and relative stability in a turbulent region are luring investors.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that China’s CNOOC was in talks with Ghana to rival Exxon Mobil’s $4 billion bid for Kosmos’s stake in Jubilee.

The GNPC source confirmed that the CNOOC was interested.

“But as far as GNPC is concerned, that also remains only as an expression of interest, like many other companies … It could be any company — it could be the Chinese, it could be Exxon,” the source said.

Kosmos owns the field with UK-based oil explorer Tullow Oil and Houston-based Anadarko Petroleum ). It put its interest in the field on the market earlier this year.

I want Ghana to get the best deal. A deal that involves jobs for Ghanaians and training, high end jobs, and environmental protection. Neither Exxon, nor the Chinese have good records or reputations in this regard. It is up to the Ghana Government to get and enforce the best deal for Ghana and the Ghanaian people.

So my question is, what, if anything, is going on under the table? Who may be getting paid for what? It is much easier for the Chinese to pay bribes than for Exxon, although Exxon is resourceful. Or is GNPC being revolutionary, and actually looking out for the development interests of Ghanaian citizens, by trying to add value to the deal? I surely hope so. We know the Chinese government is involved. Is the US government involved as well? Given the culture of corruption that was heavily institutionalized by the previous administration, and the tradition of corruption in the oil industry, in which neither Exxon nor the Chinese have clean hands, I fear there are too many people who look at the previous administration and see government service as a path to wealth. I believe President Mills is an honest man who cares deeply about doing the best for Ghana and Ghanaians. I don’t know about his ministers. I reserve judgement about intentions or motives unless I know or can see more.

Govt studying Exxon-Kosmos deal: State-run Ghana National Petroleum Corp (GNPC) is studying an agreementby Exxon Mobil to buy Kosmos Energy’s stake in the Jubilee field in Ghana before passing it to the energy ministry for its perusal, a Ghanaian government source said on Wednesday.

‘GNPC is required to look a the entire deal as negotiated — the idea is to ensure that it is the best offer not only in monetary terms but also it should come with the technical expertise,’ the government source involved in the energy sector told Reuters.

Oil map offshore Ghana from Borneo British Petroleum

Oil map offshore Ghana from Borneo British Petroleum

There are a number of comments on this article at GhanaWeb that provide more information and insight:

MKO explains in more detail how this works:

1. The Ghana govt granted Kosmos (together with other companies, forming a consortium)exploration rights for a fee, which was paid to the govt. The license (exploration rigths) – comes with some conditions attached.

2. Kosmos as the holder of the equity (by virtue of it contribution to the consortium) has the right to sell its sake to any buyer of its choice.

3. Kosmos is owned by a private equity (PE) group. PE generally operate on short / limited time span on projects. Typically what they do is acquire companies, add value (sometimes thru restructuring or other means), and the sell the company to make profit for the investors who gave them the money to buy the company/ run the project in the first place. The PE group then takes a % of the profit and a commision as reward for their “”management wizardry”” (usually 2% of the total investment commited and 20% of profit realised)
For this reason PE’s are not interested in hanging around unnecessarily – projects usually have a timeline of say 3 to 7years which contractually binding. So if they do not sell before the time they usually lose thier commission and their profits become jeopardized (sometimes zero)

4. Now GNPC on behalf of the governmant of Ghana, has the right of refusal to any deal that KOsmos enters into based on an earlier contract that they have with the Govt of Ghana. The reason for objection would have to be leagally justifiable. (could include lot of issues for example some aspect of the Govt’s contract with Kosmos is being circumvented/ altered in the Kosmos sale to Mobil, Mobil’s business operations has violated Ghana statues in the past and was not resolved, etc, etc,

5 So GNPC has to look at the sale agreement between Kosmos and Mobil to make sure that no clause of the original agreement has been violated.

6. This process is usually just a formality – govts don’t block such sale unless there are other factors such as effect on local competition, monopoly, unfair advantage etc.

7. The main reason why the Govt has to go for these arrangements is because we lack the technical expertise, but more importantly we usually lack the capacity to raise funding for such projects independently on the worlds finance markets.

Kay includes that the:

… State of Ghana gives its natural resource to Kosmos for processing while we share profits at 90% Kosmos and 10% Ghana. Please note that we share only profits, and as a nation, we do not even know what kind of investments the oil companies are making into the project.

That is why today, Kosmos says they have spent $800 million and as a nation, we have no way to verify this. Kosmos has used our own reserves to push their stock market prices to the roof. Now, out of the blue, Kosmos decides to sell the reserves for $4,000 million. What that means is that over time, our profit margins will reduce because Exxon Mobil will have to recoup these investments each year, reducing profit margins that should accrue to Ghana. Kosmos and Exxon are part of one and the same clique. This arrangement then makes it impossible to carry out any form of future re-negotiation with Exxon Mobil.

What is the basis for Kosmos selling the oil for $4,000 million? Only three months ago, they had put it for sale at $3,000 million. …

MKO responds to a number of comments:


To be frank with you I don’t think Kosmos give a toss about GNPC, Exxon or the Chinese. They are only interested in making the maximum return for their investors. Unless of cause there is US governmental influence encouraging them to favour Exxon Mobil. If that is the case, it would also come with a premium (=more $$) so why would they not take it, earn more cash and also earn brownie points in high places. And you would not be able to fault them because they would have brought a globally reputable company with the technical know how and expertise to the table for Ghana to tap into, and would have made their investors tons of money and their govt presumably happy because they’ve created jobs thru Exxon.

Currently there is so much competition for money for oil and gas projects worldwide (this my surprise you, but there is not enough money to go round for every project!! in spite of Sino-dollars)

Bare in mind that there has been significant new finds in Uganda-Kenya, several in Brazil, Liberia/serraloene, Sudan, Gulf of Mexico, North Sea, even Lybia amongst others. The owners of all of these are looking for investments. So do not think that just because we’ve found oil every body will queue to beg to invest with us.

The position of the jubilee fields may be strategic for the US. That I can understand; for example it would be cheaper to transport oil from West Africa than form the Mid-East; like-wise bringing equipment and services.

We’ve been told that production may start in Q3 (jubilee). Why such a wait? There are so many reasons, one of them being that the vessel required for production is now being fitted/ refitted in Singapore. And I understand that it really took a while to secure because of funding constraints.

We need private Ghanaians who would inspire confidence in investors and or collaborators and understand the mechanics of operations – We need to develop local competencies and capabilities, PERHAPS this George Owusu could be a catalyst.

With regards to the Chinese, What I can say is because of forecasted growth in their economy they seems to have adopted the policy of acquiring sakes in sources of energy where ever they can. This also I can understand. However from a business perspective we know that fore casts are usually wrong. Which would raise a few questions

1. If the Chinese because of their wealth acquires so many oil field around the world, would they develop these fields at the same pace? My answer would be No, since it would not make economic/business sense.
And what criteria would they use to develop these fields that they now own? I don’t know. What I know is they are interested in oil for local consumption and not necessarily for trade.

2, What would be the competitive advantage to the Budding Ghana oil industry by having Exxon or Chinese? I would not be able to do justice to this question now.

Finally in my opinion, I think we can have the both. Estimates suggests that there’s lot more oil lying off-shore on our coast. The chinese should perhaps also acquire exploration licenses or buy into other exiting exploration groups …and get to work!

In these things the terms of contracts are related to the risks involved. Relative good terms where there are huge risks, and vice versa. One would therefore expect that going forward terms of contracts should be more favorable to the Country.

Prior to the Kosmos (Tullow, Anadarko) finds, the risks involved were very high – but not so now!
It would therefore worry me if the Chinese want to muscle their way into the Tullow-andarko setup through Kosmos simply because they want to benefit from the terms of contract that these guys have ….which the chinese thinks looks very “Yummy”

Besides …I would not put the Chinese and Tullow-Anadarko (UK, US) together. This combination may lead to inefficiency of operations – to the disadvantage of Ghana. I would rather they compete independently.

I know the US State Department and AFRICOM want a close connection with Ghana. Ghana is strategically located on the coast of West Africa amidst oil finds and other natural resources. Ghana is a working democracy and a congenial place to visit as President Obama found. AFRICOM has been very busy trying to insert itself into Ghana and the Ghanaian military. One Ghanaian comment I read called Ghana the center of the world, the country closest to the intersection of the Equator and the Prime Meridian. I don’t know how relevant this last is, but I like the image. So I think it is entirely possible that there has been US governmental influence encouraging Kosmos to favor Exxon.