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Oil & Gas: How the Ghanaian Can Grab a Share

Another session of the AGI’s recent summit assembled representatives from the oil & gas policy and regulatory fraternity.  In the presentations the Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC), Petroleum Commission and Ghana Gas looked at issues of driving development through the oil sector, performance of Joint Ventures (JVs) for Ghanaian partners and business opportunities available in the Oil & Gas Sector.  It emerged that Ghanaians’ entry into the oil & gas industry are hindered with limitations mainly being unavailability of human capacity, huge capital investment and the generally low risk appetite of Ghanaian entrepreneurs.   This particularly applies to the upstream operations.

However, there is hope for local content engagement with the emergence of the on-shore drilling of crude oil.  This is not as capital intensive as the off-shore drilling currently on-going in Ghana. The recent commissioning of the Voltarian Basin opens up a future for local engagement.  The onshore Voltarian basin stretches for 106,000 km2 as compared to 50,000 km2 for the offshore area.  Drilling of the basin on an on-shore basis is less capital intensive and that would encourage local participation while the human resource capacity is also being developed.  Mr. Kofi Jantuah, an energy expert pushed for more education, empowerment and other support programs to the ordinary Ghanaian to enable them get onto the oil band wagon.  Dr. Baah Nuakoh of the GNPC, decried the lack of millionaires in Ghana in spite of having exported gold in the history of the country.  In order not to repeat the same saga, there is the need to drive local content engagement.  The local content engagement would also provide employment opportunities for citizens who are undergoing training in the oil & gas field.  The current state of affairs where emphasis is so much on offshore naturally cuts out the local companies due to its capital intensive nature.  Energy consultant Dr. Juliette Twumasi-Anokye brought attention to the high exposure to ‘oil galamsay’ in the on-shore space if regulations are not tightened to nib the illegal practice in the bud.  For the GNPC, one mandate for their sustainability programs is to ensure that the drilling of oil is of great good to the country and that the citizens are getting tangible economic benefits.

The Gas Sector

The Gas sector also spotted a number of opportunities some of which though are capital intensive.  Ghana Gas hinted of a USD 250-300 million investment for a Gas compressor in Atuabo, Production of Fertilizer by conversion of Gas, Fertilizer storage facility, Bottling facility to enhance safety of transporting gas among some major pipeline projects.

Joint Ventures with Foreign Partners

Joint ventureship has been one mode in which Ghanaians have entered into the Oil & Gas foray. Ghanaians usually enters into a JV with a foreign partner to operate in the sector.  However, it turns out that Ghanaian counterparts are often cheated in the partnership.  In Ghanaians taking up these opportunities, the quality of joint ventures with foreign partners is imperative.

Dr. Twumasi-Anokye hinted of the rather high tendency for Ghanaian partners to be cheated out of those partnerships due to lack of in-depth understanding of such partnerships and the technicalities involved.  It therefore behooves on any local player to be wary of those partnerships and seek for professional help in forming such partnerships.  It is expected that the industry sees a very good local representation in about 5 – 10 years’ time and for which oil and gas would produce more local wealth and millionaires than gold has done.  The end to this  discourse is for Ghanaians to get interested in the sector, be bold to take the risk and invest in opportunities within the sector, build capacity to take up the jobs and government to do more to support the local content drive.

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