You are here: HomeNews2000 03 08Article 9627

General News of Wednesday, 8 March 2000

Source: Panafrican News Agency

Rawlings Optimistic About Oil Strike In Ghana

Accra, Ghana (PANA) - Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings has painted a bright picture of prospects of a major oil discovery in the country and appealed to exploration companies to redouble their efforts.

"I urge companies which are already working here to continue their efforts diligently because the signs of good potentials are there," he told an oil and gas conference in Accra Tuesday.

The conference, organised by the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, has brought together major players in the oil and gas industry to talk about exploration, production, trade and finance.

Rawlings said almost all of Ghana's offshore area has been licensed to companies that have committed themselves to significant levels of investment.

Also pleasing is the interest now being shown in the country's deep waters following the successes in finding giant offshore oil fields in deep waters in Nigeria, Angola as well as Equatorial Guinea and across the Atlantic in Brazil.

"I would also like to invite more investors to join in these exploration activities," he said.

Rawlings noted that finding and producing oil is not an instant remedy for all economic problems.

Indeed, the volatile nature of oil prices has often caused havoc to the economies of countries which have become dependent on the commodity to the neglect of their important sectors such as agriculture.

"We may also find the root causes of some political and social conflicts in the very wealth that oil is supposed to generate," Rawlings said.

On investment, he noted that in Africa, the holding of general elections is often used as an excuse for a wait-and-see attitude by international agencies as well as investors.

"The pressing issues confronting us in Ghana cannot wait and both the government and the opposition remain committed to pursuing the path of national development in a fiscally prudent manner," he added. "We, therefore, hope that all our partners can come on board without hesitating just because of the forthcoming elections."

Speaking about Africa's rich petroleum resources, Rawlings said that most often when conferences are held in Europe and Africa on oil and gas, Africa is not represented.

"That approach must belong to the past. In its place, we must ensure that governments and communities in Africa participate in decisions regarding resources on the continent," he stressed.

He said even before the recent spate of mega-mergers in the oil industry, there were oil companies whose turnovers far exceeded the gross national product of many African countries.

In some cases, these oil companies depend significantly on production from countries in Africa.

Rawlings appealed to investors from oil producing countries in Africa such as Nigeria and Angola to invest in sister countries which are engaged in oil exploration.

"They should bear in mind that growth in intra-African trade and investment will be an essential element in transforming the fortunes of our continent in the 21st century," he said.