Policy think tank IMANI Ghana, Thursday , urged the Government to renegotiate the Aker Energy Petroleum Agreement, saying the country is likely to lose billions of dollars should it go with the current agreement.
Mr Kofi Bentil, the Vice President of IMANI Ghana, who made the call at a forum, organised by the think tank, said the more than 500 million barrels find, valued at $30 billion, which was announced by Aker Energy Ghana, legally belonged to Ghana.
According to IMANI, because Aker Energy’s agreement with the Ghana National Petroleum Commission at the time of the find did not cover the specific concession and thus the exploration.
Therefore, Mr Bentil said Aker should not present itself as if it were the owner of the find.
The company is a subsidiary of Norwegian-based oil exploration and production firm, Aker Energy AS. and the operator of the Deepwater Tano Cape Three Points (DWT/CTP) block, with a 50 per cent participating interest in the licence.
It announced earlier in the year that it had discovered oil in commercial quantities at the Cape Three Point offshore after it took over the concession from Hess Energy.
Aker Energy did right by informing the Government about the new discovery in accordance with the law, Mr Bentil stated, but added, “… stakeholders such as Imani Ghana are not aware if the two parties have entered into negotiations on its ownership and how it would be handled and this has been a cause for worry.
“This has been a cause for worry as the proposed revision of the Plan of Development (PoD) submitted to Government by Aker for the agreement has not been negotiated yet.
“Somehow, Aker believes that it can get more favourable terms even under the new law and they are seeking recognition of the terms they inherited under which Hess was working.”
Mr Bentil said the PoD must be approved within 30 days and the deadline was Friday, April 26, 2019, that was why IMANI was questioning government about why the delay.
“If Government fails to agree to the proposed revisions within 14 days, any matters in dispute between the Minister and the contractor shall be referred for dispute resolution in accordance with Article 24.
He said the Hess’ concession was based on the old law, which many people believed short-changed Ghana because it gave the country too little.
“Consequently, new laws, including the Petroleum Act 19, were passed so we can get a bit more from our oil.”
Mr Franklyn Codjoe, the President of Imani Ghana, urged the media to specialise in the oil and gas industry to be able to hold governments accountable and ensure transparency in the area.
“If we don’t get satisfactory responses, we will proceed to ask the courts to declare who owns the oil,” he said.
“We will keep the vigilance on this issue and we are not alone”.
Mr Solomon Kwawn Kumie, a representative of the Centre for National Resources and Environmental Management, commended Imani for their work.
He said the most significant elements of a fiscal regime were the economic benefits, which accrued to the resource owning government, upon the production of its oil and gas resources and other sub-soil minerals.
He quoted the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) 2017 report, as saying that Ghana earned $4.009 billion out of the $20.272 billion, representing 19.77 per cent of the total production revenue from crude oil at the end of seven years.
This was from the Royalty Tax/Hybrid System from the Jubilee, TEN and Sankofa fields.
As a result, the country lost almost $9 million from its Oil and Gas production revenue, which could have been avoided if the World Standard Production Sharing Agreement had been adopted.
He urged all stakeholders to try as much as possible to work together in protecting the natural resources for the benefit of future generations.
Other speakers also urged agencies representing Ghana to put the national interest first and utilise the knowledge and skills of experts to get the best deals for Ghanaians.