Sam Jonah: Tsatsu deserves honours for Ghana’s oil discovery
Dr. Sam Jonah says former CEO of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata deserves mention for his “pioneering role” and “immense contribution” to Ghana’s discovery of oil in commercial quantity.
In a write up about Ghana’s oil industry, the former Chief Executive Officer of AngloGold Ashanti said: “One man who defied the prevailing scepticism of the time and, with a persistence bordering on stubbornness, led the efforts to get us where we are today, is Tsatsu Tsikata”.
Dr. Jonah said: “Tsatsu led in the rethinking of petroleum sector policy. He led in crafting the petroleum (Exploration and Production) law that was the “investment code” for the oil sector. He led in drafting model exploration agreements including fiscal regime and Accounting Guide that is still state-of-the-art 20 years later”.
The Jonah Capital Chairman noted that Mr. Tsikata “led in the development of a specific Petroleum Income Tax Law”.
He added that: “Beyond this intellectual and professional contribution, Tsatsu emerged as a corporate leader — building GNPC itself from the ground up. His vision was sufficiently infectious to attract even hard-nosed oil men to work on Ghana’s potential, often with very little reward. However, it is in his identification, recruitment and promotion of local talent that Tsatsu truly excelled”.
According to the business magnate, “he was truly passionate about building the capacity of Ghanaian professionals in the sector. Companies and governments that had dealings with GNPC were pressured into funding scholarships and providing or funding attachments for GNPC staff and even staff from related MDAs”.
Dr. Jonah observed that Mr. Tsikata “foresaw that this investment would, in its own way, be as valuable to Ghana as any oil find. And history has proved him right”, adding that: “Today, even before the first oil has flowed, Ghana has a solid cadre of industry professionals ready, given the opportunity, to lead us into the next phase of oil industry development. We have seasoned exploration geologists and geophysicists, drilling engineers, field development engineers”.
Dr. Jonah praised Mr. Tsikata as a “relentless” individual who was “even obsessive, about the meticulous exploration of Ghana’s oil potential. He recognised that geological and geophysical data were essential preconditions for any serious effort to attract private capital into exploration efforts”.
He said Mr. Tsikata “focused GNPC’s meagre resources on an ambitious data project. GNPC scoured corporate and public archives around the world collecting geological and seismic materials, data and analysts from earlier exploration efforts”.
The renowned business man said Mr. Tsikata “worked with state oil companies from Canada (Petro-Canada International), Norway (Statoil) and Brazil (Petrobras) and Nigeria (NNPC’s seismic subsidiary) to acquire new data. Through these bilateral arrangements GNPC staff became familiar with modern technology such as “3-D” seismic surveys”.
He, eventually, according to Dr. Jonah “persuaded these collaborators to support GNPC’s acquisition of the expensive computer technology to enable her Ghanaian explorationists to undertake much of this analysis in Ghana”.
Dr. Jonah asserted that: “It was the ceaseless interpretation and re- interpretation of the GNPC’s growing geological and geophysical database inspired by and supervised by Tsatsu that identified many new prospects”.
“Tsatsu literally set the course of Ghana’s exploration drilling for an entire generation. Those who worked with him in the sector are in a better position than I to give further details”, he argued.
As far as he is concerned, Mr. Tsikata’s “investment in institution building and in exploration have contributed immensely to the recent discoveries at Cape Three Points”.
“For the health of our nation, for the sake of posterity and the development of a culture that recognises selfless and dedicated service, we must all acknowledge the immense contribution that Tsatsu made to the development of the petroleum sector. It is not too late to do so”, Dr. Jonah advised.