Ghana’s recent discovery of oil reserves off its coast has kicked off a row with Ivory Coast over the border, with Accra accusing Abidjan of claiming part of its maritime area.
“We must ensure that the boundary issue does not destroy the strong relationship between us,” Atta Mills told journalists after a closed-door meeting with the envoy of Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo.
The envoy, Ivory Coast mines minister Austin Komoe Kuadio, handed the Ghana president a message that was not made public.
He told reporters that Ivorian authorities also believed the boundary issue should not divide the neighbours.
The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation announced last month the discovery of an “extensive deepwater petroleum province” offshore Ghana.
The Dzata 1 find by Russia’s oil giant Lukoil and its partner Houston-based Vanco Energy is about 100 kilometres (60 miles) away from the Jubilee oilfields, where significant hydrocarbons have also been found.
The Jubilee field is one of the largest oil finds in West Africa in the past decade. The first barrels of crude from the field are expected to come on stream in the last quarter of the year.
The maritime border in the Gulf of Guinea was never formally demarcated but for years the neighbours had respected “a median line” between them, according to Ghanaian Lands and Natural Resources Minister Collins Dauda.
But Ivory Coast had complained that Ghana is violating this informal boundary, he said this month.
Ghana’s parliament this month passed a bill establishing a boundary commission to demarcate its land and maritime borders.