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How Oando of Nigeria got the world media into ‘lap dog’ mode over Ghana gas sector deal

Oando Plc is a Nigerian oil and gas firm, which seems to have a very effective public relations (PR) outfit that has succeeded in getting the world’s media into ‘lap dog’ mode by reporting a false press statement it put out on Sunday October 4, 2009.

The media momentarily lost its watchdog stance and lapped every falsehood that Oando crafted in a well organized and purposeful press statement signed by Meka Olowola Head of Oando’s Corporate Communications unit.

As Oando intended it, the world’s media swallowed every word of the statement and gave it the obviously intended meaning. The statement was titled “Ghana selects Oando for $1bn Natural Gas Project.” And as it turned out a good number of media across the world reported that Oando has won a $1 billion deal to develop Ghana’s natural gas infrastructure.

Among the world’s leading media organisations that carried the story was the Reuters. Ghanabusinessnews.com was the first Ghanaian news source to break the story on Monday October 5, 2009.

Indeed, the Nigerian media was far more enthusiastic in reporting the news as the Nigerian Compass Newspaper published the story under the headline “Ghana Petroleum Corporation, Oando seal $1bn gas deal.”

Other Nigerian newspapers like BusinessDay and the Vanguard all carried stories with similar headlines indicating Oando has been awarded a contract.

Almost all the oil and gas sector publications around the world also carried the story which gave the impression that Oando indeed has been awarded a contract to develop Ghana’s gas infrastructure.

Unfortunately, however, the Ghana National Petroleum Coporation (GNPC) even though aware of these false impressions kept quiet. GNPC said nothing knowing the information in the media was false, and Oando also kept mute over the false information its press statement has generated around the world.

But a new development in Ghana’s gas infrastructure issue led to exposure of the facts – the facts that the Oando press release sent across a false message. That Oando has not been awarded any deal to develop Ghana’s natural gas infrastructure.

Ghanabusinessnews.com got information that the GNPC has awarded a contract to a French oil technology company, Technip to construct deepwater gas pipelines on the Jubilee project. We then contacted GNPC official Mr. Thomas Manu for confirmation of this particular project and he directed us to Mr. Victor Sunu-Attah who is the Project Coordinator for GNPC’s gas infrastructure.

He answered our initial questions and confirmed that yes; indeed, the GNPC has awarded a contract to Technip. We went further to ask how this project awarded to Technip was connected to the $1 billion deal that has been awarded to Oando of Nigeria to develop Ghana’s gas infrastructure. Mr. Sunu-Attah then asked, “Who told you we have awarded a deal to Oando to develop Ghana’s gas infrastructure?”

We said “Oando did.” He made us understand that there was no such deal. We asked further questions and he told us that Oando was involved in a selection process for the project, but that selection process was inconclusive and added that Oando did not meet the requirements for the project.

Interestingly, after ghanabusinessnews.com published the story quoting the man in charge of GNPC’s gas infrastructure, Mr. Sunu-Attah, an official of Oando called us from Nigeria and said our story was inaccurate. We insisted it was accurate, and they could send a rejoinder if they thought otherwise.

Before we had received Oando’s rejoinder on a Saturday October 30, 2010 after we had done the story on Wednesday October 27, 2010, copies of the rejoinder have already been sent to other media organisations that published it even though they did not carry the story that Oando was reacting to.

As a matter of fact peacefmonline.com published the rejoinder and claimed without any evidence that it could confirm as it was told only by Oando’s press statement that the story as reported by ghanabusinessnews.com was false. The same statement was carried by the Ghana News Agency (GNA), but the only difference with the GNA report was that Ghana Business News was edited out of the content, and any reader would not know what story Oando was referring to.

We want to set the records straight, as well as call on Oando officials to come clean on this. We at ghanabusinessnews.com since our inception despite our very limited resources have sought to do our very best to get as close as possible as we can in publishing the truth. Oando by its continuous peddling of falsehood had sought to portray ghanabusinessnews.com as rather publishing falsehood.

Indeed, we at ghanabusinessnews.com would be one of those who would have celebrated if Oando had indeed won the contract, because as a West African company, that would have been a feather in the cup of Ghana and the sub-region, but unfortunately they do not qualify to do the job as the GNPC has clearly told ghanabusinessnews.com
Ghana has just found oil, and it appears some individuals and companies might want to take advantage of the country’s perceived inexperience in the oil sector to further their own interests. Hopefully, ghanabusinessnews.com would be on the watch for such individuals and companies and do as much as it could to expose them.

Oando must come again.

We publish below for your interest the two press statements that Oando has issued on the matter. The initial statement and the one in response to our story.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

The first press statement that generated the first story.
October 5, 2009

Ghana selects Oando for $1bn Natural Gas Project

Oando, Nigeria’s leading integrated energy solutions provider announces that it has been selected as a Strategic Partner to the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) to develop assets and infrastructure to harness the gas that will be produced from the offshore Jubilee oilfield.

The oil field is rated as West Africa’s current largest offshore deepwater discovery in over a decade, with proven reserves in excess of 300 million barrels of recoverable oil and a potential for 1.8 billion barrels.

GNPC had shortlisted companies following a highly competitive bid process involving over fifty reputable local, regional and international corporations. From the initial fifty, five companies made the final selection from which Oando (Lead Developer) and Saipem (a globally renowned Oil & Gas engineering, procurement and construction firm) and Modec-Itochu (a Japanese oil & gas consortium) were chosen to form a joint consortium with GNPC.

The scope of the project includes the development of offshore and onshore high pressure gas transmission pipelines, Processing Facility, Liquefied Petroleum Gas and Condensate storage tanks, as well as other ancillary structures. The US$1 billion ultra-modern facility is planned to commence operations in the near future.

The Ghanaian Government has expressed its commitment to develop a world-class infrastructure that will process natural gas as fuel for existing power plants at Effasu and Takoradi both in the Western Region of the country. The development is also planned to enable the sale of natural gas and derivatives to both domestic and international markets. In a proactive step to eliminate gas flaring from the Jubilee Field, the completion date of the project has been scheduled to coincide with the planned First Oil for Jubilee. This will form a model for the development of future oil and gas fields in the country.

Commenting, Mr. Bolaji Osunsanya, Chief Executive Officer, Oando Gas & Power, states, “This is a testament of Oando’s high competence in the execution of gas projects and operations.With 100 km of gas pipeline infrastructure already built in Lagos, another 128 km under construction in the South East of Nigeria and a planned 100 km yearly expansion, this new partnership with GNPC to develop Ghana’s first gas infrastructure, broadens our leadership frontiers in the gas transportation and distribution business within the West African sub-region.”

Also commenting, Mr. Wale Tinubu said, “We are very proud to be part of this historic milestone in Ghana’s oil and gas exploration. The Jubilee oilfield is set to further transform the Ghanaian economy and position the country as a key player in the Gulf of Guinea. The choice of Oando is an affirmation of our track record at project delivery and creates an opportunity for us to extend the success recorded in building Nigeria’s gas distribution pipeline system to other parts of West Africa. This is a fillip toward our drive to become the foremost energy company in sub-Saharan Africa, leveraging our tradition for execution excellence, capacity to undertake technical-intensive ventures and access to long-term financing.”

Oando is Nigeria’s leading integrated energy solutions providers with investments and subsidiaries spanning the energy entire value chain including exploration and production; upstream support; service; gas and power; international supply and trading and downstream.

For more information, please contact:

Meka Olowola
Head, Corporate Communications
Oando Plc
Stallion House, 2 Ajose Adeogun Street
Victoria Island, Lagos
Phone: 01 2625857
Email: nolowola@Oandoplc.com
www.oandoplc.com

oando’s response to our story exposing the falsehood in their statement.

30 October, 2010

Our attention has been drawn to a publication in the Ghana Business News which quoted Mr. Victor Sunu-Atta, an official of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), as saying GNPC never selected Oando to develop Ghana’s gas infrastructure.

We affirm that this assertion is false as Oando-SAIPEM consortium was duly selected by GNPC as a strategic partner to jointly develop the gas infrastructure project.

This selection was communicated to us via a letter dated 1st September, 2009 and signed by Mr. Thomas Manu, Director of Operations on behalf of the Managing Director of GNPC.

As is typical with a development of this scale, we are currently engaging with parties to ensure an appropriate commercial, technical and transaction structure that best delivers the anticipated value of the investment.

Bolaji Osunsanya, Chief Executive Officer, Oando Gas & Power comments, “Our ability to undertake projects of this magnitude has never been in doubt. Together with our partners, we are currently on the Nigerian Gas Master Plan final shortlist of bidders for the development of the Central Processing Facilities and Strategic Gas Transmission Pipelines.

With in-house capacity developed over the years; partnerships with world class technical and financial organisations; and our strict respect for the sanctity of contracts; we are in a good position to undertake the Jubilee Field Gas Infrastructure development.”

Oando remains firm in its commitment to partner with the Ghanaian Government and the GNPC in developing its energy infrastructure.
http://www.ghanabusinessnews.com/2010/11/08/how-oando-of-nigeria-got-the-world-media-into-%E2%80%98lap-dog%E2%80%99-mode-over-ghana-gas-sector-deal/

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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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