Two officials of Ghana’s Ministry of Energy and Petroleum are at the centre of what has been described as “insider dealings” in the award of contracts in the oil and gas industry following the alleged forging of the signature of the Minister of Energy and Petroleum by an employee of Miura Petroleum, an oil firm claiming the right of first negotiation over the Offshore Cape Three Points South (OCTPS) block in Ghana.
According to Africa Center for Energy Policy (ACEP), an energy policy think-tank, the recent forgery has exposed Ghana to international ridicule.
Miura Petroleum, in conjunction with its parent company Gondwana Oil Corporation, had recently stated that its assets in Ghana included the right to the offshore block about which it had begun negotiations with the government of Ghana. However, in a press release by the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, Miura has been accused of forgery in connection with the award letter and signature of the Minister of Energy and Petroleum, and denied ever awarding the right of first negotiation to Miura.
Miura was the company originally awarded the right and has already bagged in US$1.5 million having sold majority shares to Gondwana. This means that Miura has already made a financial gain in respect of the transaction.
ACEP is also concerned that many other companies around the world may be holding letters with forged signatures allegedly from Ghana and taking advantage of Ghana’s oil and gas industry to make money.
Gondwana Oil Corp has recently listed on the Canadian stock exchange to mobilise funds for its operations. The controversy, if proven, exposes other companies holding Petroleum Agreements from Ghana to serious risks in the international capital market. It is also alleged that Gondwana used the forged letter in its Listing statement to the Canadian Stock Exchange.
ACEP recently cited Miura Petroleum’s claim to assets offshore Ghana as example of Ghana “giving away” juicy blocks to inexperienced and questionable oil companies and called for a moratorium on further licensing until the new Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Bill was passed.
“We strongly believe that the secrecy surrounding oil deals in Ghana is largely responsible for this alleged forgery and criminality. It is, therefore, no longer an option but a necessity for Ghana to adopt an open and competitive process for granting oil and gas concessions. Parliament must also invite public comments before approving Petroleum Agreements”, said ACEP.
The centre therefore called on the government to award oil blocks to companies that had the financial muscle to finance the huge capital operations in the oil industry seriously.
Source: Business Day
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