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Decline Cote d’Ivoire’s application; Ghana tells ITLOS Special Chamber

tenThe Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong is urging the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) to reject Cote d’Ivoire’s call on Ghana to suspend all activities on a disputed maritime boundary between the two countries.

“We invite you to firmly decline the application before you,” Mrs Appiah-Opong noted, with the argument that Cote d’Ivoire had failed to prove Ghana had encroached on its territorial waters to warrant the stoppage of activities including the exploration of oil at the disputed area until the final determination of the dispute.

“There is no justification in law, logic, fairness or on the evidence for the measures sought. They would be unprecedented, an invasion of sovereign rights that stand in the face of representations made by Cote d’Ivoire for more than four decades, on which others and we have relied on,” Mrs Appiah-Opong stressed.

Leading a team of local and international lawyers and technical staff from relevant agencies, Mrs Appiah-Opong told the ITLOS’s five-member panel that “until Ghana was well advanced with its oil exploration programme on its side of the boundary there were no difficulties.

At the time when Cote d’Ivoire had much more oil and gas production than Ghana, there were no claims about moving the maritime boundary. In 2009 Cote d’Ivoire started to make representations to Ghana about their desire to alter the boundary. Yet its public position did not change. None of its inconsistent positions has any proper justification in law.”

The tribunal’s panel is presided over by Judge Boualem Bouguetaia; Judge Rudiger Wolfrum; Judge Jin-Hyun Paik; Judge Thomas Mensah and Judge Ronny Abraham.

Judges Mensah and Abraham were appointed by Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire in conjunction with the rules of the tribunal.

Responding to earlier submissions by Cote d’Ivoire which called for the cessation of all activities on the disputed boundary and the halt in granting of new oil licences to potential oil companies until the final determination of a maritime boundary dispute between the two countries, Mrs Appiah-Opong said “with all respect, Cote d’Ivoire has not offered a fair or balanced account of the facts and has not attempted to bring this situation within the recognised framework of law established by this Special Chamber.”

The international lawyers, who advanced legal, technical and expert arguments on Ghana’s behalf were Prof. Philip Sands, a Professor of International Law, University College of London; Prof. Pierre Klein, Centre for International Law, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium; Mr Paul S. Reichler, a partner at Foley Hoag law firm; Ms Alison Macdonald, Matrix Law Chambers, London and Ms Clara Brillembourg, a partner of Foley Hoag.

They cited international law authorities, maps and voluminous data to disprove Cote d’Ivoire’s assertions.

They also accused Cote d’Ivoire of failing to advance any tangible legal arguments backed by facts except to rely on unfounded allegations in their bid to invite the tribunal to shift the maritime boundary in Cote d’Ivoire’s favour.

Mutually agreed boundary

Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, according to the Attorney-General shared a maritime boundary which was based on international law and had been mutually recognised for four decades in numerous ways, although, not formally delimited.

“The equidistance-based maritime boundary has been relied upon across a range of maritime activities. Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire have repeatedly represented to the world, over many years, including oil companies, that this is where the boundary lies and they have relied on that.  Acts and documents under the hand of the founding President of Cote d’Ivoire, Felix Houphouet-Boigny and of some of its most senior ministers, among many others, indicate a consistent representation of the boundary – and the clear recognition by Cote d’Ivoire of where its maritime jurisdiction ends and that of Ghana begins,” Mrs Appiah-Opong asserted.

She further argued that the petroleum corporations of both countries have had excellent co-operation over the years and had in no doubt in their dealings with each other this maritime boundary.

“The respective Ministries with oversight of these national corporations have also acted with complete consistency in recognizing the same maritime boundary over decades.

Billions of dollars of investment and millions of hours of human activity have been expended on the basis of it. Now, after lengthy operations in accordance with this boundary, Cote d’Ivoire asks this Special Chamber to declare that work should stop on Ghana’s side of it.   We respectfully submit that this would have no justification,” Mrs Appiah-Opong continued.

Cote d’ Ivoire’s change of position

Giving a preamble on why Ghana decided to file for arbitration at ITLOS in September 2014, Mrs Appiah-Opong noted that a Ghana’s Boundary Commission actively engaged with Cote d’Ivoire over a period of some 5 years and stressed “Ghana’s position was consistent, Cote d’Ivoire’s was not. There was no real progress; the only thing provisionally agreed was the co-ordinates of a base point for the Land Boundary Terminus.”

“Last year, Cote d’Ivoire sent further hostile correspondence and it became clear to us that there would be no agreed resolution via the processes led by the Ghana Boundary Commission.  It was not Ghana, which indicated hostility to the negotiations in 2014.  Cote d’Ivoire issued threats to our oil companies. Ghana, therefore, acted to bring the matter to arbitration and ultimately before this Special Chamber, in the interests of continuity, stability and certainty.

Extraordinary response

Mrs Appiah-Opong argued that the response of Cote d’Ivoire in the application has been “extraordinary” adding “for the first time, it accuses Ghana of lax environmental standards, without any credible evidence in support.

For the first time, it accuses Tullow Oil, one of its own concessionaires, of incompetence with respect to production.  Tullow has been producing effectively for the last 5 years.

Perhaps most surprisingly, Cote d’Ivoire did not mention its own explicit recognition of the boundary from the 1960s to 2009,” she added.

Environmental Matters

According to the Attorney-General, the issue of alleged environmental harm was raised three weeks ago but that notwithstanding, “we have dealt with it fully and comprehensively in the short time available.”

“The relevant institutions of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire have been working assiduously over a period of years to ensure that oil pollution preparedness and response measures receive the necessary attention in the region.  Our countries, together with other West African countries on their own or under various international auspices (including the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Petroleum Industry Environment Conservation Association (IPIECA)), are already collaborating on a number of environmental projects.

Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire, together with other member states of the Convention for Cooperation in the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Atlantic Coast of the West, Central and Southern Africa Region, also known as the Abidjan Convention, are even now working together to develop a protocol for common Environmental Standards for regulating the oil and gas industry within the Region.  We are committed to ensuring that oil exploration and extraction takes place within the framework of standards set out in the Convention.

None of this is acknowledged by Cote d’Ivoire and, instead, it has chosen to make unfounded allegations against Ghana in respect of our regulatory system, as well as equally unfounded allegations against one of our partner companies.  We invite you firmly to reject them,” Mrs Appiah-Opong affirmed.

Impact on Ghana

Elaborating the impact the provisional measures being sought Cote d’Ivoire would have on Ghana, Mrs Appiah-Opong noted, “the impact of the provisional measures sought would be extraordinarily serious for Ghana. If the order were granted and all work had to stop, it would have a devastating impact on our oil production and exploration, throughout a large area of maritime territory previously recognised by Cote d’Ivoire as belonging to Ghana. Ghana would risk losing its principal partners.  There would be a massive impact on finance, employment and development. The impact would be irreparable and beyond quantification.”

“ If Ghana were, in the end, held to be right by the Tribunal, the effect of the order sought by Cote d’Ivoire would be to have deprived Ghana for a period of over 2 ½ years of the majority of the vested rights it is exercising in the region. Cote d’Ivoire is silent on this.   These are prima facie Ghana’s sovereign rights, which it is exercising in accordance with UNCLOS and pursuant to the many contractual relationships it has with those with whom it works.

She further argued that despite what Cote d’Ivoire was claiming, this case had nothing to do with whether the resources should be explored and produced because to Ghana it was about “to which state’s account the revenues and costs of that activity should be allocated.”

“ In the unlikely event that the Special Chamber departed from the established approach to boundary delimitation in this case and moved the boundary from its recognised position, any alleged loss would be quantifiable on the basis of production records,” Mrs Appiah-Opong argued to justify why there was no basis for oil production on the disputed area to be stopped.

Diplomatic considerations 

Arguing further, the Attorney-General noted that Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire had worked constructively together, sometimes through difficult times, to resolve differences peacefully and for that reason “the measures requested by Cote d’Ivoire would put that equilibrium in jeopardy.”

The Attorney-General nonetheless, emphasised the mutual respect and affection that Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire shared but prayed the court to dismiss Cote d’Ivoire’s interim application as without merit.

– See more at: http://graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/40883-decline-cote-d-ivoire-s-application-ghana-tells-itlos.html#sthash.fCIPBkNB.dpuf

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong is urging the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) to reject Cote d’Ivoire’s call on Ghana to suspend all activities on a disputed maritime boundary between the two countries.

“We invite you to firmly decline the application before you,” Mrs Appiah-Opong noted, with the argument that Cote d’Ivoire had failed to prove Ghana had encroached on its territorial waters to warrant the stoppage of activities including the exploration of oil at the disputed area until the final determination of the dispute.

“There is no justification in law, logic, fairness or on the evidence for the measures sought. They would be unprecedented, an invasion of sovereign rights that stand in the face of representations made by Cote d’Ivoire for more than four decades, on which others and we have relied on,” Mrs Appiah-Opong stressed.

Leading a team of local and international lawyers and technical staff from relevant agencies, Mrs Appiah-Opong told the ITLOS’s five-member panel that “until Ghana was well advanced with its oil exploration programme on its side of the boundary there were no difficulties.

At the time when Cote d’Ivoire had much more oil and gas production than Ghana, there were no claims about moving the maritime boundary. In 2009 Cote d’Ivoire started to make representations to Ghana about their desire to alter the boundary. Yet its public position did not change. None of its inconsistent positions has any proper justification in law.”

The tribunal’s panel is presided over by Judge Boualem Bouguetaia; Judge Rudiger Wolfrum; Judge Jin-Hyun Paik; Judge Thomas Mensah and Judge Ronny Abraham.

Judges Mensah and Abraham were appointed by Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire in conjunction with the rules of the tribunal.

Responding to earlier submissions by Cote d’Ivoire which called for the cessation of all activities on the disputed boundary and the halt in granting of new oil licences to potential oil companies until the final determination of a maritime boundary dispute between the two countries, Mrs Appiah-Opong said “with all respect, Cote d’Ivoire has not offered a fair or balanced account of the facts and has not attempted to bring this situation within the recognised framework of law established by this Special Chamber.”

The international lawyers, who advanced legal, technical and expert arguments on Ghana’s behalf were Prof. Philip Sands, a Professor of International Law, University College of London; Prof. Pierre Klein, Centre for International Law, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium; Mr Paul S. Reichler, a partner at Foley Hoag law firm; Ms Alison Macdonald, Matrix Law Chambers, London and Ms Clara Brillembourg, a partner of Foley Hoag.

They cited international law authorities, maps and voluminous data to disprove Cote d’Ivoire’s assertions.

They also accused Cote d’Ivoire of failing to advance any tangible legal arguments backed by facts except to rely on unfounded allegations in their bid to invite the tribunal to shift the maritime boundary in Cote d’Ivoire’s favour.

Mutually agreed boundary

Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, according to the Attorney-General shared a maritime boundary which was based on international law and had been mutually recognised for four decades in numerous ways, although, not formally delimited.

“The equidistance-based maritime boundary has been relied upon across a range of maritime activities. Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire have repeatedly represented to the world, over many years, including oil companies, that this is where the boundary lies and they have relied on that.  Acts and documents under the hand of the founding President of Cote d’Ivoire, Felix Houphouet-Boigny and of some of its most senior ministers, among many others, indicate a consistent representation of the boundary – and the clear recognition by Cote d’Ivoire of where its maritime jurisdiction ends and that of Ghana begins,” Mrs Appiah-Opong asserted.

She further argued that the petroleum corporations of both countries have had excellent co-operation over the years and had in no doubt in their dealings with each other this maritime boundary.

“The respective Ministries with oversight of these national corporations have also acted with complete consistency in recognizing the same maritime boundary over decades.

Billions of dollars of investment and millions of hours of human activity have been expended on the basis of it. Now, after lengthy operations in accordance with this boundary, Cote d’Ivoire asks this Special Chamber to declare that work should stop on Ghana’s side of it.   We respectfully submit that this would have no justification,” Mrs Appiah-Opong continued.

Cote d’ Ivoire’s change of position

Giving a preamble on why Ghana decided to file for arbitration at ITLOS in September 2014, Mrs Appiah-Opong noted that a Ghana’s Boundary Commission actively engaged with Cote d’Ivoire over a period of some 5 years and stressed “Ghana’s position was consistent, Cote d’Ivoire’s was not. There was no real progress; the only thing provisionally agreed was the co-ordinates of a base point for the Land Boundary Terminus.”

“Last year, Cote d’Ivoire sent further hostile correspondence and it became clear to us that there would be no agreed resolution via the processes led by the Ghana Boundary Commission.  It was not Ghana, which indicated hostility to the negotiations in 2014.  Cote d’Ivoire issued threats to our oil companies. Ghana, therefore, acted to bring the matter to arbitration and ultimately before this Special Chamber, in the interests of continuity, stability and certainty.

Extraordinary response

Mrs Appiah-Opong argued that the response of Cote d’Ivoire in the application has been “extraordinary” adding “for the first time, it accuses Ghana of lax environmental standards, without any credible evidence in support.

For the first time, it accuses Tullow Oil, one of its own concessionaires, of incompetence with respect to production.  Tullow has been producing effectively for the last 5 years.

Perhaps most surprisingly, Cote d’Ivoire did not mention its own explicit recognition of the boundary from the 1960s to 2009,” she added.

Environmental Matters

According to the Attorney-General, the issue of alleged environmental harm was raised three weeks ago but that notwithstanding, “we have dealt with it fully and comprehensively in the short time available.”

“The relevant institutions of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire have been working assiduously over a period of years to ensure that oil pollution preparedness and response measures receive the necessary attention in the region.  Our countries, together with other West African countries on their own or under various international auspices (including the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Petroleum Industry Environment Conservation Association (IPIECA)), are already collaborating on a number of environmental projects.

Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire, together with other member states of the Convention for Cooperation in the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Atlantic Coast of the West, Central and Southern Africa Region, also known as the Abidjan Convention, are even now working together to develop a protocol for common Environmental Standards for regulating the oil and gas industry within the Region.  We are committed to ensuring that oil exploration and extraction takes place within the framework of standards set out in the Convention.

None of this is acknowledged by Cote d’Ivoire and, instead, it has chosen to make unfounded allegations against Ghana in respect of our regulatory system, as well as equally unfounded allegations against one of our partner companies.  We invite you firmly to reject them,” Mrs Appiah-Opong affirmed.

Impact on Ghana

Elaborating the impact the provisional measures being sought Cote d’Ivoire would have on Ghana, Mrs Appiah-Opong noted, “the impact of the provisional measures sought would be extraordinarily serious for Ghana. If the order were granted and all work had to stop, it would have a devastating impact on our oil production and exploration, throughout a large area of maritime territory previously recognised by Cote d’Ivoire as belonging to Ghana. Ghana would risk losing its principal partners.  There would be a massive impact on finance, employment and development. The impact would be irreparable and beyond quantification.”

“ If Ghana were, in the end, held to be right by the Tribunal, the effect of the order sought by Cote d’Ivoire would be to have deprived Ghana for a period of over 2 ½ years of the majority of the vested rights it is exercising in the region. Cote d’Ivoire is silent on this.   These are prima facie Ghana’s sovereign rights, which it is exercising in accordance with UNCLOS and pursuant to the many contractual relationships it has with those with whom it works.

She further argued that despite what Cote d’Ivoire was claiming, this case had nothing to do with whether the resources should be explored and produced because to Ghana it was about “to which state’s account the revenues and costs of that activity should be allocated.”

“ In the unlikely event that the Special Chamber departed from the established approach to boundary delimitation in this case and moved the boundary from its recognised position, any alleged loss would be quantifiable on the basis of production records,” Mrs Appiah-Opong argued to justify why there was no basis for oil production on the disputed area to be stopped.

Diplomatic considerations 

Arguing further, the Attorney-General noted that Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire had worked constructively together, sometimes through difficult times, to resolve differences peacefully and for that reason “the measures requested by Cote d’Ivoire would put that equilibrium in jeopardy.”

The Attorney-General nonetheless, emphasised the mutual respect and affection that Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire shared but prayed the court to dismiss Cote d’Ivoire’s interim application as without merit.

Source: http://graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/40883-decline-cote-d-ivoire-s-application-ghana-tells-itlos.html#sthash.fCIPBkNB.dpuf

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Reporting Oil and Gas project was launched on 4th June 2009atTakoradi, Western Region, Ghana by Penplusbytes (PPB – www.penplusbytes.org) with the vision of providing a one stop online information and knowledge about Ghana’s oil and gas sector
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