Mr Boakye Agyarko, the Minister of Energy, has said the Government signed an oil exploration contract with the ExxonMobil Company to explore for oil in the Deeperwater Cape Three Points Oilfields because it has the capacity to deliver.
He said government’s policy for the upstream oil industry was to undertake aggressive exploration by incorporating and attracting the right partners to conduct operations to serve as a catalyst for economic growth.
“That informed government’s decision to opt for direct negotiations with ExxonMobil as opposed to an open competitive tender since most oil firms have challenges operating in water depths between 2,000 and 4,000 metres.
“The direct negotiations was the best way to go considering that there are just a few oil companies in the world that have the wherewithal, in terms of equipment and financing, to undertake such ultra-deep-water exploration,’’ the Minister explained.
Mr Agyarko made the remarks at the Sixth Edition of the Ghana Economic Outlook and Business Strategy Conference in Accra, on Wednesday, on the theme: ‘’10 years of Oil and Gas: ‘‘Challenges and Prospects’’.
The forum was organised by the Africa Business Media Network, publishers of the Ghana Business and Finance Magazine, which brought together industry players, including regulators, service providers, operators, civil society organisations and government officials.
The event is intended to offer a platform for stakeholders in the oil and gas industry to deliberate on the successes, challenges and prospects of the sector and chart the way forward.
Mr Agyarko noted that the agreement with ExxonMobil would offer Ghana an opportunity to accelerate exploration activity with the view to making more discoveries and increasing the reserve replacement rate.
“We will continue to develop mechanisms that will enable us to attract partners of this calibre into the country to further de-risk the ultra-deep water potential and benefit from cutting-edge technology,’’ he assured.
He said the country still had a large and relatively unexplored sedimentary basin with huge oil and gas potential, out of the total offshore area of about 256,000 square kilometres, only 50 per cent of it was licensed for exploration.
The Minister assured Ghanaians that, the deal with the American oil firm was in the best interest of the nation and urged the citizenry to be patient while awaiting Parliament’s ratification.
In the deal, ExxonMobil holds 80 per cent interest, while the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation holds a 15 per cent carried interest, and the remaining five per cent would be assigned by ExxonMobil to a local partner of their choice.
Currently there are 17 active exploration and production agreements signed between the Government of Ghana and other international and local oil firms to explore petroleum resources.
Mr Agyarko said his outfit was working towards the completion of the tie-in of the Ghana Gas pipeline and the West African Pipeline and associated modification works at both Regulation and Metering Stations (R&M) in Takoradi and Tema.
Dr Yaw Osei Akoto, the Board Chairman of the Africa Business Media, in his welcome address, said the forum was playing a significant role in the national discourse in the economic development of the nation.
He said it provided a platform for constructive interaction between government officials, players in the oil and gas industry, regulators and civil society organisations and believed the event would go a long way to better the economic fortunes of the nation.