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Business News of Friday, 27 August 2021

Source: Collins Owusu, Contributor

GNPC increased stake in Aker blocks will create 11,000 jobs – Dr. KK Sarpong

Chief Executive Officer of GNPC, Dr. KK Sarpong play videoChief Executive Officer of GNPC, Dr. KK Sarpong

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Dr. KK Sarpong says Ghana’s move to take up significant stake in the Aker/AGM blocks will create an estimated 11,000 jobs and bring in 27 billion dollars in foreign exchange inflows.

In an interview on Peacefm’s Kokrokoo morning show, Mr. Sarpong mounted a strong defense of the transaction which has been criticized by some civil society individuals.

“One reason why this acquisition will be helpful to us is that all the tax advantage that would have gone to these foreign companies will now come to Ghana and GNPC. If we leave Aker to produce the oil alone they will have to take out of Ghana about 1 billion dollars in capital allowances that reduce taxes, I mean they won’t pay any of that money to Ghana in taxes. But when we acquire the assets all that money will stay in Ghana…this particular transaction has the potential to create about 11,000 jobs” he said on the show.

Dr. Sarpong also detailed what he believes to be one of the biggest benefits from the transaction. According to him the transaction holds the key to addressing Ghana’s foreign exchange challenge over the life of the project because of the potential for it to bring in an estimated 27 billion dollars in foreign exchange inflows. He cited a research paper authored by the Institute for Fiscal Studies which argued for Ghana to take up as much as 55% stake in the country’s oil and other natural resources because of the enormous benefits to the economy.

THE RATIONALE

Outlining the rationale for the transaction, he explained that there is pressure from developed countries for poor countries like Ghana to abandon their oil resources in the ground and rather borrow to invest in renewable energy. This is forcing many foreign oil companies to leave countries like Ghana. He says unless GNPC can build its capacity to take over, all of Ghana’s yet to be explored oil, worth billions of dollars will be left in the ground.

“These developed countries forcing us to abandon our oil and go green are still producing coal (one of the dirtiest natural resources). The irony is that they have fully exploited and used their oil resources to develop their countries and they sold the oil to us, very expensive. Just when we also found oil, all of a sudden they insist we should abandon our oil and rather go and borrow to invest in renewable energy. I can never agree to that”
Some CSO’s critical of the transaction have claimed that Aker Energy has spent less than 400 million dollars on the fields so far and therefore do not deserve the initially proposed 1.6 billion dollars the government had asked parliament to approve.

Dr. Srapong was emphatic, this claim was false. He says GNPC records show that Aker has spent 712 million dollars in total cost to date.

“It is not fair to say that Aker Energy has spent only 100 million and that GNPC is advising government to go and pay 1.1 billion dollars. People are throwing figures out there to confuse people. These figures can be verified, at GNPC we have the records of what they have spent” he said.

According to the GNPC Chief Executive, the transaction has by-partisan support.

“At least this is the one transaction that has by-partisan approval. All the key individuals on both sides of the political divide agree with the move. For me this particular issue is not NPP or NDC, it is about Ghana”.

He said his door is open to all CSO’s who want clarity on key issues to have an open and fair discussion.