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Business News Fri, 30 Nov 2001

Govt to Intesify Search For Oil

The Government of Ghana is intensifying the search in oil exploration in the country, particularly in deep waters where there is growing evidence of potentially large accumulation of oil and gas.
In furtherance of this, the government will embark on a major revision of the legal and regulatory framework for oil and gas exploration and development to make it more attractive to investors. Also, the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation will undergo restructuring to focus on its core-business of promoting oil and gas exploration, Mr. J. H. Mensah, Senior Minister said on Thursday.
Additionally the GNPC would be retooled and motivated to provide effective support to the oil companies that come to Ghana to undertake oil and gas exploration.
"We will support sweeping reforms in the oil and gas sector with the aim of making Ghana the most attractive country in the sub-region for oil and gas exploration and production," he said.
Mr. Mensah, Chairman of the National Economic Management Team, was addressing the opening of a two-day workshop on "Deep water exploration in Ghana - The way forward" organised by the Ministry of Energy with sponsorship from USAID.
The workshop discusses the deepwater prospects, develop policies and strategies and make recommendations for adoption by the government.
Recent deepwater oil discoveries in the Gulf of Guinea, of which Ghana was part, had brought into focus the need to redirect Ghana's exploration efforts to the deep-water areas.
Mr. Mensah said the oil and gas sector held the key to the accelerated development of the country and everything possible must be done to provide the right environment for it to flourish.
In line with the government's policy of "positive change" the length of time it took to approve exploration permits would be cut down considerable, adding, "we promise to expedite the ratification of agreements and the granting of extensions".
"The GNPC has already mapped structures that contain in-place volumes of several billion barrels of oil giving us hopes of Ghana becoming an oil giant within the sub-region," Mr. Mensah said.
75 per cent of the wells drilled in the country so far, have encountered varying volumes of oil and gas, which was much better than the world average of 20 to 30 per cent. "This is convincing that the big one is hiding somewhere to be found."
Mr. Mensah said although the terms and conditions in the existing petroleum law and the petroleum income tax law were generally good, “we wish to make them even more attractive.”
He said industry concerns about duration of exploration and other parameters like royalty, taxes and state participation would be addressed.
The Senior Minister expressed the hope that a refinery would be established around Takoradi, which would be used solely for the export of oil from Ghana to the rest of the sub-region.
Energy Minster, Albert Kan- Dapaah, MP said deepwater discoveries made in the sub-region in recent years had highlighted the potentials of the region to be the oil and gas province of the 21st century.
All the technical data available point to the fact that there should be some oil in Ghana. Ghana is surrounded by oil producing countries such as Cote D'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Gabon all of which are producing deep water.
Basin analysis indicates that neighbouring Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana boundary had the same potential. While Cote d'Ivoire has within a short time become self-sufficient in both oil and gas, Ghana is still searching for its hydrocarbons.
Ghana’s offshore sedimentary basins, which cover an area of about 50, 000 square kilometers, is grossly under-explored, compared to similar basins elsewhere in the world.
Government says, although the terms and conditions in the existing Petroleum Law and the Petroleum Income Tax Law are generally good, it intends to make them even more attractive, while industry concerns about duration of exploration and other parameters like royalties, taxes and state participation will be addressed.
"There is no technical reason why Ghana also should not be self-sufficient", Mr. Kan-Dapaah said.

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