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General News of Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Source: Statesman

GNPC 'rejects' 800m barrel oil discovery

The Executive Director of Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, Moses Boateng has told The Statesman that his outfit will soon begin assessing and evaluating the true quantity of oil discovered by London-based Tullow oil and Cosmos oil at the Deep water Tano block near Cape Three Points in the Western Region.

Moses Boateng was reacting to assertions making the rounds that Ghana could earn up to $560 billion from the latest discovery.

He noted that neither he nor his outfit could say with any degree of certainty the quantity of crude oil at the Tano block.

He added that the previous announcement of a possible 400 million and subsequent 800 million barrels discovery could not be officially substantiated now.

"It is true that a world class oil field has been found, but we have not assessed the capacity or quantity yet, hence our readiness to do pragmatic assessment from September to December 2007 to determine the quantity available and the value.”

Some energy experts have predicted that oil discovered in Ghana could generate close to $ 560 billion, but the MD of GNPC said the amount could either be higher or lower, “depending on the quantity of oil that would be available after our findings.”

Moses Boateng noted that GNPC presently holds 10% shares in the exploration project and also serve as the supervisory agency. “We can decide to increase our shareholding capacity whenever possible, but we have not decided on that yet.”

The GNPC manager disclosed that Tullow and Cosmos oil companies, also serving as strategic investors, would be given the go ahead to develop the exploration site after December 2007.

In another development, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu has told The Statesman that Government's ability and willingness to jointly fund the extraction of the found oil would depend on the terms of a yet-to-be-signed agreement between the parties, and until then, any discussion on extraction costs to the state would be premature. He disclosed that about $700,000 is spent daily by the oil companies in their operations.

Some energy experts have counseled caution in the celebrations accompanying the discovery of oil, arguing that it would be improper to compare the transformations that have taken place in other countries to what is likely to happen here.

African countries own 8% of world oil reserves, according to experts. An estimated $200bn in revenues will flow into African government treasuries over the next 10 years as new oilfields open up throughout the Gulf of Guinea.

Oil will bring the largest influx of revenue in the continent's history, and more than 10 times the amount western donors give each year in aid.

Five countries dominate Africa's upstream oil production. Together they account for 85% of the continent's oil production and are, in order of decreasing output, Nigeria, Libya, Algeria, Egypt and Angola.

Other oil producing countries are Gabon, Congo, Cameroon, Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Cote d'Ivoire.

Nigeria is estimated to have 3.62 billion barrels of proven oil reserves as of January 2007. The government there plans to expand proven reserves to 40 billion barrels by 2010. Majority of the reserves are found along the Niger delta in southern Nigeria .

Nigeria has a total production capacity of 3 million barrels per day, including 2 million barrels onshore and 1 million offshore. Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa, 11th largest producer in the world.

Libya has oil reserves estimated at 39 billion barrels. However, experts say the Arab country has the potential for further oil discovery, with only 25% of potential 'oil land' by the oil companies due to sanctions and stringent fiscal terms imposed on foreign oil companies.