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General News of Monday, 26 July 2010

Source: The Catalyst

Mills' Advisors Divided Over Kosmos/ExxonMobil Deal

• Ato Ahwoi GNPC Remains Adamant On Rescuing The Lost Shares

President Mills’ policy and economic advisors are sharply divided over the Kosmos/Exxon-Mobil deal in which Kosmos, with impunity offloaded its 25% shares in Ghana’s jubilee fields to Exxon-Mobil through the ‘backdoor,’ intelligence information available to The Catalyst reveals.

Whiles some want government to throw in the towel and allow Kosmos and Exxon-Mobil to have their way, a few others think otherwise, a situation that leaves government with a weak front in the matter.

This is the result of frantic efforts by Exxon-Mobil to get government to soften its stance on what the government described as ‘breach of agreement’ regarding Kosmos’ unilateral decision to offload its 25% shares in Ghana’s jubilee fields to ExxonMobil.

Officials of Exxon-Mobil, who are determined to call the bluff of the Ghana government, jetted into the country in a bid to engage persons within government and others who are close to the presidency as part of their decision to bulldoze their way through to getting government to endorse the impunity being perpetuated on the people of Ghana by Kosmos and Exxon-Mobil.

Key personalities and advisors to the president believed to be helping the course of Exxon-Mobil and Kosmos against, what our sources called, the national interest include Mr Kofi Annan, former UN secretary General, Ishmael Yamson, former chairman of Unilever, Mr Henry Martey Newman, Chief of Staff and Dr Cadman Mills, the President’s brother.

This has been attributed to excessive western pressure on some of these individuals as well as government.

Already, Kosmos and Exxon-Mobil have committed allies in the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).

This paper’s sources say the only person among the President’s advisors who has remained absolutely resolute is Mr. Ato Ahwoi, the current Board Chairman of Ghana National Petroleum Corporation. Being supported by a handful of others, Mr Ato Ahwoi is said to have so far remained firm in seeking to rescue the drowning 25% Kosmos shares, in the jubilee fields, for the people of Ghana. An intelligence source has hinted The Catalyst that preparations are being made by Exxon-Mobil officials to have an exclusive and strategic meeting with Mr Ato Ahwoi in order to get him to back down and make way for them to finally perpetuate the impunity.

As per the agreement, by Kosmos’ decision to offload its shares, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) must be given the first priority to buy the shares. Ghana’s Petroleum exploration and production law, PNDC Law 84, section 8 states that “A petroleum agreement entered into under this Law shall not directly or indirectly be assigned in whole or in part, by the holder of such agreement to another person without the prior consent in writing of the secretary.” The government of Ghana initially made it clear it will ensure the right thing is done as far as this deal is concerned. Advisors of President Mills, The Catalyst has learnt, were initially unanimous on the government position to do everything in its power to get back the ‘lost’, shares by ensuring a strict adherence to the terms of the agreement by both government of Ghana and Kosmos. But The Catalyst Intelligence sources say most of President Mills’ advisors are beginning to soften their stance on the matter. Surprisingly, some of them have decided to join the Exxon-Mobil bandwagon.

Reports say President John Evans Atta Mills, despite his government’s initial tough position, has requested Exxon-Mobil to submit a proposal of its interest to buy the shares of Kosmos energy in Ghana's jubilee fields. This followed a meeting with all interested parties in the deal at the Castle, Osu. But this has not gone down well with the Ato Ahwoi-led group, who are in the minority. Stay tuned.