Norwegian oil company Aker has said that after its exploration start-up in the country submits development plans to Ghanaian authorities in March, the parent company will then decide whether to sell equity stakes through an initial public offering or a private sale.
The local subsidiary, Aker Energy, plans to develop the deep-water Pecan field off western Ghana.
The local stock market, the Ghana Stock Exchange lacks anything near the capacity to provide the equity capital required to develop the new field, but like Tullow Oil, the operator of the country’s flagship Jubilee field, Aker feels that allowing local investors to have a stake would give Ghanaians a sense of ownership.
The biggest IPO done on the GSE so far was the one done last year by MTN Ghana, which operates the biggest mobile telecommunications network in the country.
That offer aimed at raising GHc3.46 billion but only succeeded in raising about two fifths of the target, which nevertheless amounted to four times the previous biggest IPO – the GHc350 million raised by Agricultural Development Bank in late 2016, which incidentally has since been largely scuttled by the Bank of Ghana due to alleged irregularities.
Tullow Oil, the largest shareholder, in and operator of Ghana’s first oilfield, the Jubilee field did an IPO on the GSE in mid-2011 which raised GHc109.48 million.
Instructively this was only a fraction of the development cost of that field and indeed the offer was done several months after production from the field commenced.
“Depending on the approval process in Ghana, we believe the first oil is achievable in late 2020 or early 2021,” Aker’s Chief Executive Oeyvind Eriksen told Reuters during an earnings presentation. This means that even if the company decides to do an IPO in Ghana, it could not be done in time for its proceeds to contribute significantly to the Pecan field’s development anyway.
A recent appraisal had confirmed 450 million-550 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe) at the field, Aker said.
Aker Energy plans to drill another two wells in February, expected to prove between 150 and 450 mmboe of additional resources, with preliminary results expected before the development plan is submitted, Eriksen told the presentation.
Aker controls oil company Aker BP, 30 percent owned by BP, which has announced plans to triple its oil production by 2025 from 155,700 boepd in 2018.
Expected production from Ghana and potential acquisitions in Norway support the plan of Aker’s main shareholder, Norwegian billionaire Kjell Inge Roekke, to increase total oil output to over 1 million boepd by 2025, Eriksen said.
Aker Energy operates and holds a 50 percent stake in the DWT/CTP block off Ghana, which contains several discoveries.
Its partners are Russia’s Lukoil (38 percent), the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (10 percent) and Fueltrade (2 percent).
Eriksen also told Reuters that Aker was still interested in mergers and acquisitions involving its oil service firms, including Aker Solutions.
“We still see opportunities (for M&A)… but the downturn has been more rough for our competitors, which have been more preoccupied with managing price volatility instead of focusing on strategic decisions,” he said.
He declined to say whether he expected any deals to be made this year as oil prices have recovered from a slump in the last quarter of 2018.
As a result of the price fall and capital market volatility, Aker’s net asset value (NAV), its core performance indicator, dropped to US$4.8 billion in the fourth quarter.