It was reported this week by Bloomberg that ‘Ghana may buy Kosmos’ stake in Jubilee Oil Field.’ The story by Rond Derby is that the state-owned Ghana National Petroleum Corp., which overseas the country’s nascent oil and gas industry, may buy Kosmos Energy LLC’s stake in the $3.1 billion Jubilee oil field.
The publication quoted Ghana’s Deputy Energy Minister Kwabena Donkor, who is in South Africa, as saying, “If they sell, the national oil company will buy their stake.” The Statesman can confirm that Kosmos is certainly selling. But, should that mean that Ghana is definitely buying?
While it may come across as very good news, it is more complicated than that. It means the Ghana Government must find more than $2 billion within the next few months. And, even more to prepare the fields for production. It explains why the Government has contracted investment bankers, Morgan Stanley, to help it raise funds for the oil and gas sector.
It is, however, making some in the NDC upper echelons very nervous. It is calculated that for Government to pursue this acquisition agenda could delay the production calendar by up to 2 years, regardless of what shares-movement-watching Tullow may get the world to believe.
In such a tight fiscal environment, the Government hopes to rely on some oil ‘windfall’ to soften the 2012 election grounds. But, the man behind it believes he is doing it for the ultimate interest of Ghana and he is determined to go ahead and win for Ghana such a vital control of its own oil fields.The man behind moves to undo and redo arrangements on Ghana’s oil is Tsatsu Tsikata, the former GNPC boss, under President Rawlings, who was fired for, what was described then as for committing GNPC to ‘over-ambitious’ investment excursions. Already, he has sent the previous government's Ghana Petroleum Authority Bill back to the drawing table for more 'consultations'. This Bill sets out the local content policy and seeks to split the regulatory role from GNPC to set up a Ghana Nationa Petroleum Authority, freeing GNPC to focus on the commercial aspect, but as a company, not a corporation.
Though he carries no official title in the President Mills administration, Mr Tsikata has managed to outmanoeuvre the likes of Ato Ahwoi, Kwame Peprah and Oteng Agyei, the official Minister for Energy, to become the country’s Oil Tsar (Czar). And, who can blame him –after all, his party founder, former President Rawlings, acknowledges his role in Ghana’s efforts to discover oil. Even though privately, Mr Rawlings is known to have shown resentment towards the ascendancy of Tsatsu Tsikata and his cousin, Kojo Tsikata in the Mills administration.
Mr Tsatsu started by attempting to get GNPC to lift oil from Nigeria but received a rebuff, with the Nigerian's maintaining that the lifting company must have a local Nigerian content.GNPC is 100% Ghana government owned.
Mr Tsikata scored a plus when he got the likes of Tullow, Kosmos and Anardarko to agree that gas that comes from the oil production belongs to Ghana. Tullow has agreed to supply 200 billion cubic feet of associated natural gas from Jubilee to the Ghanaian government to stimulate the development of infrastructure for power generation. Gas supplied above this volume will be priced subject to a gas sales agreement.
But, not happy with that, he has been finding ways of frustrating the exploration/production agreements his administration set, with which oil adventurists such as Kosmos worked to strike oil in deep offshore Ghana. Now he believes the 10% automatic share for GNPC plus the tax revenue, which all adds up to less than 40% of total oil revenue is not enough and that Ghana can get more. He has, thus, frustrated the signing of development agreements with the companies, for them to raise the necessary capital to begin the process of production. This delay has been most felt in the process of unitisation of the oil fields contracts.
Indeed, sources at Washington tells The Statesman that top on the agenda of the close-door discussions between US President Barrack Obama and Ghanaian President John Mills is oil. The likes of Dallas-based Kosmos have lobbied the White House hard to put pressure on the Castle to get the Ghanaian government to remove the “artificial bottlenecks” being placed to frustrate the sector’s gravitation to the production stage.
Other pressures coming from Washington are from the Bretton Wood institutions. Indeed, the World Bank has made a speedier passage of the Ghana Petroleum Authority Bill and the setting up of a framework for a transparent fiscal regime for the oil industry conditionalities for the release of the second tranche of the $300 million Economic Governance and Poverty Reduction Credit facility in October. The IMF is also expected to place certain conditions directly related to the oil before releasing funds to support the cedi’s stability and the country’s trade balance.
Kosmos owns about 30 percent of the Tullow Oil Plc-led venture that manages the field’s development. A UK newspaper recently published that Royal Dutch Shell was interested in buying Kosmos out.
Tullow reported this week suggest that the development plan for Jubilee has been finalised with the Ghanaian government and is awaiting formal approval from the Minister for Energy. Well drilling and construction of floating oil production vessels is on track to deliver first production in 2010, the company maintains. But, analysts are not so sure.
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