General News of Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Barring any unforeseen hitches, the seeming tension between Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire over a disputed oil-rich area off the coast of Ghana will be resolved by June this year, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, has indicated.
The two countries have set up a road map to address the dispute in the area in the deep waters of the Western Region, portions of which Cote d'Ivoire is claiming.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic on the sidelines of the just-ended Investing in African Mining Indaba conference in Cape Town, South Africa; Alhaji Fuseini said the matter was being resolved within the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Alhaji Fuseini also said negotiations between the two countries were ongoing and added, “We have exchanged documents we intend to rely on as we work together to attain an amicable solution to the matter.”
He said the technical teams from the two sides had visited the Ghana Boundary Post 55 (GBP 55) to ascertain the geographic coordinations of the boundary.
The minister was confident that barring any last-minute hitches, the matter would be brought to a close by June, 2014, as stipulated in the road map, and said the government would not do anything to mar its relationship with Cote d’Ivoire.
The government had given the assurance that the country’s oil find was not under threat, Alhaji Fuseini reiterated, and urged the citizenry not to entertain fears of the country losing its new-found wealth.
The two countries established a commission in 2010 to work out the details of how the border would be demarcated.
In an effort to solve the dispute, Ghana took steps to pass a new law that sought to establish the Ghana Boundary Commission with the mandate to undertake negotiations to determine and demarcate the country’s land boundaries and de-limit its maritime boundaries.
Accordingly, Parliament was tasked to expeditiously pass the Ghana Boundary Commission Bill under a certificate of urgency, resulting in some government officials saying “the government was doing everything possible to avoid a full-blown international dispute with the nation’s western neighbour”.
The disputed oilfield holds about two billion barrels of oil reserves and 1.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Touching on the Ghana Gas Project at Atuabo in the Western Region, Alhaji Fuseini reiterated the government’s commitment to ensure the completion of the project, which is expected to complement the gas received from Nigeria.
Though he declined to delve into the financial details of the project, since it is not under his jurisdiction, Alhaji Fuseini underscored the importance of the project to the economy of the country, since it would result in the creation of jobs and provide other economic benefits for the people.