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Mills' "Messy Oil Politics" As Oil Giant, Aker ASA Goes Public In Int. Media
 
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26-Jan-2010  
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Minister of Energy, Dr. Joe Oteng-Adjei is alleged by a letter dated December 30, 2009, to have virtually abrogated a Petroleum Agreement signed among the Government of Ghana (GoG), the GNPC, Aker ASA and Chemu Power Limited on October 24, 2008 and subsequently ratified by Parliament on November 5, 2008.
 
 
 
The New Crusading GUIDE last Thursday reported that Ghana’s Minister of Energy, Dr. Joe Oteng-Adjei had by the effect of a letter dated December 30, 2009, virtually abrogated a Petroleum Agreement (PA) signed among the Government of Ghana (GoG), the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Aker ASA and Chemu Power Limited on October 24, 2008 and subsequently ratified by Parliament on November 5, 2008.

Dr. Oteng-Adjei in his December 30, 2009 letter addressed to the President of Aker ASA Group, had indicated that the November 5, 2008 Petroleum Agreement (PA) was flawed to the extent that it (PA) allegedly failed to meet the requirements demanded by PNDC L 84, and therefore ruled that “THE ASSIGNMENT YOU HAVE REQUESTED IS LEGALLY IMPOSSIBLE IN VIEW OF THE UNDERLYING FAILURE OF COMPLIANCE WITH THE LAW”.

In effect, Dr. Joe Oteng-Adjei was telling the Norwegians THAT THE NOVEMBER 5, 2008 PETROLEUM AGREEMENT RATIFIED BY THE PARLIAMENT OF GHANA WAS NULL AND VOID (YAMUTU!)

However, the Norwegians appear determined to defend their cause/case. They have officially and formally responded to the Minister’s letter (decision) in a letter dated January 18, 2010 and also publicly issued an official statement on it (Minister’s letter/decision) to the international media, a copy of which is in the possession of The New Crusading GUIDE.

For starters, we publish the full text of the press release (public statement) dated January 22, 2010 issued by the Norwegian oil company (AKER ASA) for the benefit and perusal of our readers. Please stay tuned for more…

*AKER IN GHANA, MINISTER SEEKS OFFSHORE LICENSE TERMINATION…

In a letter to Aker, Ghana’s Minister of Energy asserts that the company’s offshore exploration and development license in Ghana is invalid. AKER DOES NOT SEE ANY FOUNDATION FOR SUCH AN ASSERTION.

In November 2008, Aker was awarded an ownership interest in and operatorship of a petroleum offshore exploration and development license at a deepwater field off the coast of Ghana on Africa’s west coast. The Petroleum Agreement had been negotiated with the National Oil Company, GNPC and the then current government of Ghana, and was presented to and ratified by Ghana’s Parliament.

Subsequently, elections have been held in Ghana and a new government is in power.

“OVER THE PAST SIX MONTHS WE HAVE HAD INDICATIONS THAT THE NEW ADMINISTRATION IS SEEKING TO WITHDRAW OUR LICENSE AGREEMENT. THESE SIGNALS HAVE NOW BEEN CONFIRMED IN THE LETTER FROM THE MINISTER THAT STATES THAT THE AGREEMENT IS CONSIDERED INVALID. THE REASON GIVEN IS THAT THE AGREEMENT DOES NOT MEET LEGAL REQUIREMENTS THAT A GHANAIAN COMPANY MUST BE PARTY TO THE AGREEMENT. WE SEE NO BASIS IN LAW OR FACT FOR THIS CLAIM”, says Aker’s Investment Manager, Maria Moræus Hanssen, who oversees Aker’s interest in Ghana.

“Aker Ghana and Aker have acted as required. The agreement has been entered into as it was unanimously adopted by Ghana’s Parliament. Our subsidiary in Ghana has assumed the responsibilities under the agreement, and offered to formally enter into the agreement, as required by law. Naturally, we have regarded the agreement as valid, and we have, with the understanding of other Ghanaian authorities, gathered and processed seismic survey data to an extent that exceeds our obligations under the Petroleum Agreement”, says Ms. Moræus Hanssen.

*PARTNER CRITICIZED:

In the letter the Minster also raises questions regarding Aker’s local partner, Chemu Power. Chemu has been subjected to a smear campaign appearing in Ghana’s media accompanied by attempts to link the company to rumors about improper conduct in a matter unrelated to Aker and the Petroleum Agreement.

AKER’S AGREEMENTS WITH CHEMU WERE MADE AT THE REQUEST OF GHANAIAN AUTHORITIES TO INCLUDE A LOCAL PARTNER AND THERE HAS BEEN COMPLETE TRANSPARENCY REGARDING CHEMU’S FIVE-PERCENT OWNERSHIP INTEREST IN THE LICENSE. CHEMU’S ROLE IS ALSO KNOWN AND IDENTIFIED IN THE PETROLEUM AGREEMENT THAT WAS PUT FORTH AND APPROVED BY GHANA’S ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES. ACROSS-THE-BOARD TRANSPARENCY HAS BEEN A KEY REQUISITE FOR AKER.

A careful investigation by Aker of Chemu prior to entering into their business relationship did not uncover any questionable issues or concerns associated with either Chemu or its principals. To further protect Aker’s interest, Aker insisted that the agreement with Chemu feature clauses that provide for termination of the local partner agreement in the event that Chemu had acted, or acts, illegally or in a way that contravenes commonly accepted business practices.

“No such improprieties have been uncovered”, says Ms. Moræus Hanssen. She notes that the cooperation with Chemu so far has been of limited scope. In total, Aker has paid Chemu approximately NOK2 million as payment for documented costs related to administrative services of a practical nature performed in Ghana, including payment for rent and personnel.

*ROAD AHEAD:

“AS IS WELL KNOWN, AKER WAS EXCITED ABOUT THE OPPORTUNITY TO PARTICIPATE IN DEVELOPING GHANA’S OIL INDUSTRY WHEN WE ENTERED INTO THE PETROLEUM AGREEMENT IN 2008. THE CURRENT TURN OF EVENTS IS DEEPLY DISAPPOINTING. AS AN INITIAL STEP TOWARD RESOLUTION, WE HAVE INFORMED GHANA’S MINISTER OF ENERGY THAT WE DO NOT ACCEPT THE CLAIM THAT THE AGREEMENT IS INVALID”, says Moræus Hanssen.

Moræus Hanssen further states that it is self evident that Aker’s success in the country depends on maintaining good relations with Ghana’s authorities. She also notes that the Minister of Energy has indicated a possible solution to the matter under which Aker will have the expenses it has incurred in connection with its seismic survey covered.

“THESE ARE ALL ISSUES THAT FACTOR INTO OUR UPCOMING DIALOGUE WITH GHANA’S AUTHORITIES. WE INTEND TO BE CONSTRUCTIVE. THE GOAL IS TO ARRIVE AT A SOLUTION THAT SERVES THE INTERESTS OF BOTH PARTIES”, says Moræus Hanssen.

*(Issued By Aker ASA, January 22, 2010, Oslo, Norway)
 
 
 
Source: Monitoring Desk, New Crusading Guide/Ghana
 
 

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