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A decade of oil discovery

July 6, 2017 2:17 PM
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A decade on, various international oil companies have been attracted into the industry and communities and other social structures have played key roles in the bid to better Ghana’s prospects with the oil find.

After several decades, the country’s tortuous journey and dream of becoming an oil-producing nation was actualised in 2007 by Kosmos Energy, whose former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Mr James C. Musselman, led a delegation to the Castle, Osu to break the news to the then President, John Agyekum Kufuor.

Former President Kufuor (right) receiving sample of first oil from Kosmos officials, including Messrs George Owuwu (pouring oil) and James C. Musselman (2nd left)

The President was presented with a sample of the crude oil as evidence of the discovery, triggering a barrage of expectations from communities, the government, chiefs, public, civil society and environmental groups, after it was confirmed to be in commercial quantities, just the news that had eluded the country for decades.

Although former President Kufuor supervised the development of production wells in a fast-track fashion and got the passage of some laws and regulations underway, it was President John Evans Atta Mills who turned on the symbolic valves for the country’s first oil to pour in December 2010.

President John Dramani Mahama also had the opportunity to turn on valves for the second Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) John Evans Atta Mills on August 18 last year to produce oil from the Tweneboa, Enyenra and Ntomme (TEN) Fields.

Today, the baton falls on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to have his turn of symbolically turning the valve on FPSO John Agyekum Kufuor (JAK) , to pour its first oil from the country’s third independent multi-billion dollar oil and gas field, Offshore Cape Three Points (OCTP).

The field, operated by Italian oil giant, ENI (Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi), started production three months ahead of its August 2017 schedule for first oil, with first gas expected in February 2018.

Today’s historic event is after the successful installation of all subsea infrastructure and hooking them up to the production platform – FPSO JAK which arrived in the country’s waters on April 10, 2017 and moored on the OCTP field in the Tano Basin.

The field holds about 770 million barrels of oil equivalent (mboe), split into 500 million barrels of oil and 270 mboe of non-associated gas – about 40 billion cubic metres.

This morning when President Nana Akufo-Addo turns the valves, he will be ushering in FPSO John Agyekum Kufuor to produce up to 85,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) through 18 underwater wells.

The gas component for power generation will be transmitted through the 63-kilometre submarine pipeline to the Onshore Receiving Facilities (ORF) in Sanzule, in the Ellembelle District.

From the ORF, approximately 180 mscfd of processed gas will be transmitted to fire thermal plants of the off-taker, the Volta River Authority. The quantity of gas from OCTP is expected to power thermal plants for more than 15 years, a situation considered a game-changer in the country’s economic transformation.

The Sankofa-Gye Nyame project has ENI as the lead operator of the OCTP block with a 44.44 per cent stake, while Vitol and the GNPC hold 35.56 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

Looking back to 2007 when Mahogany-1 was discovered, spirits were lifted at the thought that at the time of discovery it was the single largest discovery in the world, drilled by no less an industry kingpin but Kosmos Energy.

In July 2004, Ghana, through the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), signed an agreement for oil exploration with Kosmos Energy of the USA and the E.O. Group of Companies. The agreement, valued at an initial $30 million, was reached within a record time of three months based on previous seismic data provided by the GNPC.

Although the company began operations in 2004, actual well drilling started on May 28, 2007 by Belford Dolphin, a dynamically positioned fifth-generation deep water drill ship with 126 workers on board, including 16 Ghanaians.

Per established conventions of oil discovery, development and production, the country was to wait for anything between seven and 10 years before the pouring of first oil. However, 40 months from the discovery date, oil poured from Jubilee in what has since been praised as a record and on-budget execution.

Again, the country’s quest for more oil after Kosmos Energy de-risked the space, was realised with the declaration of commercial oil from Tweneboa, Enyenra and Ntomme (TEN) fields.

After the de-risking of the country’s shores, 25 new discoveries have been made around the Tano Basin, located Offshore Cape Three Points, by various players, including the wholly-owned Ghanaian international oil company, Springfield Group.

The three independent developed fields – Jubilee, TEN, and Sankofa-Gye Nyame operations – came with oil and associated gas, essential for domestic use and the country’s power sector to propel the national transformation and industrialisation agenda.

This is how within a decade Ghana’s total oil output is inching towards 250,000 barrels per day (bopd) and natural gas flow from the fields estimated at about 350 million standard cubic feet a day (mscf/d).

Not only is Ghana happy with the celebrations of successful completion of three developed fields up and operating, the country’s regulatory agencies also made conscious efforts to ensure that Ghanaian companies participate in a meaningful way in the industry.

After the speedy development of Jubilee where expatriate companies flooded every space, today the story is different; the development of the second and third fields saw some appreciable participation by Ghanaian wholly-owned and joint venture companies from industrial fabrication to waste management.

Such moves brought out the Ghanaian international oil companies such as Seaweld Engineering, JVC Ventures, Zeal Environmental Technologies, Belmet 7 and others forming healthy partnerships with Yinson Production West Africa, ENI, GNPC, Petroleum Commission and others.

Though the 10-year journey has not been rosy, it has thrown up some useful lessons for the country and it is the expectation of many that more Ghanaian firms will play critical roles in the oil and gas industry within the next decade and beyond.


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