Sunday, 12 February 2012

SHOULD GHANA NOT GET BETTER VALUE FROM ITS OIL & NATURAL GAS DEPOSITS?

If an oil find was made off Ghana's coastline, which was similar in magnitude, to the four oilfields in the waters surrounding Britain's South Atlantic possession, the Falkland Islands - over which it fought and defeated Argentina in a brief war in the 1980's - I doubt very much if we would be talking about a sum, anywhere near the £111.7bn tax-windfall, which the Falkland Islands is said to potentially stand to reap, from production in the aforementioned oilfields.

Without a shadow of doubt, in exchange for anything up to a secret 1.5% pro bono stake in each one of those oilfields, some of the geniuses amongst our ruling elites, would have probably quickly agreed to sign an exploration and production agreement which would have left Ghana with only a fraction of the £111.7bn tax-windfall, which the Falkland Islands apparently stands to gain, if those four oilfields are drilled.

Naturally, that secret stake would have been hidden for those of our rulers selling Ghana short, as a result of collusion with the oil companies - in facilitating the setting up of legal fronts: probably using special purpose offshore entities to hide their real ownership.

(Perchance, is that how the E. O. Groups of Ghana's oil industry are born, one wonders, dear reader? But I digress.)

Ghana, which does not face the potential risk that the Falkland Islands faces daily - the likelihood that Argentina could try and seize the island from Britain, by invading and occupying it again - logically ought to be more attractive to investors than the Falkland Islands: and be able to demand and get even better exploration and production terms than the Falklands.

Or, more to the point: It would be interesting, to see precisely what terms and conditions Tullow Oil (the African oil giant) and its partner, Royal Dutch Shell (as well as the other oil companies exploring the Falklands' waters), operate under, in the 200-mile exclusion zone around the Falklands - and compare that to the Shyster's agreement, which Tullow and its Jubilee oilfield partners successfully wrung out of those crooks who used to rule our nation - the perfidious Kufuor & Co. - and who literally, for a mess of pottage, gave away that windfall, which Providence so generously gave to Nkrumah's Ghana, as a second-chance opportunity, to help transform Ghanaian society, into an African equivalent, of the egalitarian societies of Scandinavia.

In the light of all the above, clearly, had we made such a discovery in Ghanaian waters, there is no question that thanks to the perfidy of our greedy and mostly-dishonest ruling elites, chances are we would most probably have ended up receiving paltry sums in taxes comparatively - which is precisely the case, presently, with those relatively minuscule revenues from the Jubilee oilfield.

The question is: Has the time not now come for the ordinary people of Ghana, to demand that those who they elect to protect our nation's interests, do precisely that: particularly when negotiating exploration and production agreements with foreign oil companies?

A report by Edison Investment Research (EIR) - headquartered in London, and one of Europe's leading independent investment research companies - prepared by the company's oil and gas analysts, predicts that if all four prospective oilfields were drilled by the companies listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) that are now exploring those four Falkland Island oilfields (which incidentally include the African oil giant, Tullow Oil), the island could collect a tax windfall of a little under US$180bn.

Our nation's failure to maximise the lost opportunity the Jubilee oilfield represents, is why it is so important that Ghana extracts as much value as it can, from what after all is a diminishing asset - by making the most of the present bad situation of one-sided oil agreements galore (reputedly amongst the worst in the world: from the producing nation perspective).

Perhaps one method of trying to get better value from Ghana's oil and natural gas deposits, is by strictly enforcing the take-back clauses, which allow oil blocs not developed by a certain time frame, to be returned to the Ghanaian nation-state.

We can then offer them, under much better and fairer terms, to new and eager players from places like Japan; South Korea; and China - and make up some of huge losses we have had to put up with, thus far, as a result of those disgraceful, pernicious and one-sided agreements, which the perfidious Kufuor & Co. signed with foreign oil companies, much to Ghana's detriment.

Our ruling elites must end their days as stooges for foreign governments and the lackeys of foreign commercial interests - for ordinary Ghanains are now totally fed up with their leaders acting as agents of foreign business entities and foreign powers (large and small).

The good people of Nkrumah's Ghana, and the Ghanaian nation-state, most certainly deserve to get far better value from the oil and natural gas deposits off our country's coastline, than presently is the case.

Those now in charge of Ghana must address those concerns. Above all, let them ensure that our natural gas deposits, instead of enriching foreign oil companies, end up powering Ghanain industry - and help lower their production costs and make them truly competitive; help stop deforestation - by replacing firewood and charcoal with liquefied petroleum gas for cooking in our nation's kitchens; and help give Ghanaian cities and towns better air quality - by encouraging vehicle importers to start selling gas-powered vehicles in Ghana. A word to the wise...

Tel (Powered by Tigo - the one mobile phone network in Ghana that actually works!): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109.
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