I have a decent internet connection this morning, so I’ll take advantage of that to post some of the back and forth between Ghanaian think tank, IMANI, and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC). IMANI has recently published some interesting articles on the Jubilee field’s underperformance. In contrast to the excited tone of most of the business news about the country’s oil industry, the IMANI articles raise serious questions about the industry’s costs and prospects.
Worrying Developments in Ghana’s Oil Sector discusses production levels that are hovering around 60,000 b.p.d. The projected 120,000 barrel daily output has never been met and at this time, it is unclear when production will reach this level. IMANI has questioned both the speed of the Jubilee field development and the original production projections.
I have been busy the past few weeks and haven’t had much time for posting…But today I have to take out a few minutes to repost an article from the Ghana News Agency (via Ghana Oil Watch).
It has been more than a year since I wrote about the difficult relationship between Ghana’s fishing communities and the oil industry. It seems that nothing much has changed since. The fishing communities are still waiting for an impact assessment. Fishermen say the oil industry is impacting their activities, but without any studies, they have nowhere to go with their grievances.
Continue reading . . .
The dearth of oil jobs in Ghana is back in the news again.
“Youth angry over elusive jobs in oil industry,” was the title of an article published in the Ghanaian press on March 12th.
The article cites Ebow Haizel-Ferguson from Sigma-Base Technical Services, who urges the rapid development of “ancillary industries.” I interviewed Haizel-Ferguson for “Ghana: Will oil mean jobs?” a short video I produced for the Pulitzer Center .
Oil brings in huge amounts of money, of course, and along with that comes expectations of many, well-paid jobs. The problem is that the industry – at least as it exists in Ghana now – doesn’t generate much work.
I’m working on a story about the regulation and oversight of the offshore industry across the Gulf of Guinea and should be wrapping it up in a few weeks. That’s been keeping me from posting much lately.
Three weeks have now passed since the spill in the Ahanta West District. I am still unable to communicate any official, on-the-record information about what happened. A few days ago, the Ghana EPA said that the whale deaths in the Western Region could not be “attributed” to oil exploration, stating that there is no scientific proof for that claim. But the main thing to glean from the EPA statement is that no one knows what has caused the recent deaths. We can’t say they were provoked by the oil operations, but we can’t say they were the result of anything else, either.
There’s more news coming out about Jubilee’s production problems. When Ghana’s oil production began in December, the Jubilee partners estimated that production levels would rise to 120,000 b.p.d. within six months. But the “ramp up” has been delayed repeatedly and last month Anadarko, responding to stockholder concerns, went as far as saying that some well redesign was necessary. What had been a delay began to look like a real problem.
An oil slick, first spotted by fishermen November 3rd, has washed ashore in the Ahanta West District. At this point there is little information available. The government is suggesting the oil leaked from or was dumped by a tanker, but is providing no proof or details. Fishermen report first seeing the slick near the Jubilee field and some suspect that the spill is related to the oil activities. Neither Tullow Oil nor any of the other partners has made any statements, so at this point, it is difficult to know what happened.
Tullow Oil and Anadarko have been in the news, both inside and outside Ghana. In Ghana, things are going well for the two companies. Tullow, most notably, appears to be moving towards development of its recent Tweneboa and Enyera discoveries (translation: more commercial oil production on the way).
Outside of Ghana it’s a different story. In Uganda, Tullow is caught up in a political scandal involving corruption allegations. The Ugandan government has blocked Tullow’s sale of some of its Ugandan holdings to Total and CNOOC, pending an investigation. Tullow categorically denies the allegations, but there’s no denying that Uganda’s oil adventure does not look to be off to a good start.
I took a trip to Axim today. Axim is a town about an hour’s drive west of Takoradi. It’s a major fishing port, one of the largest in Ghana. There are 800 fishing canoes operating out of Axim and some of the big canoes have 20 person crews. So from Brewire to Apewosike, there are literally thousands of people fishing in the Axim area.
I met with Nana Kojo Eshun, the chief fisherman of Lower Axim. I wanted to talk to him because I’ve heard some stories from fishermen recently about health problems in Axim that some here blame on gas flaring in the Jubilee field.
Fish and oil: What’s at stake?
Here in Ghana, oil is expected to account for about 5% of the GNP when production gets up to speed. The fishing industry also contributes nearly 5% to the GNP. The number of jobs for Ghanaians that the oil industry may create is still unknown, but there’s no mystery about fishing. Approximately one-fifth of Ghana’s population depends on fishing. That’s huge, but in the Western Region fishing communities have to accommodate the oil industry. The oil industry meanwhile doesn’t have to do anything for the fishermen. Continue reading . . .