32 CSOs kick against sale of JOHL’s shares "Support Energy Minister’s intervention"
A coalition of 32 civil society organisations (CSOs) have registered their displeasure at attempts to dispose of Jubilee Oil Holding Limited’s (JOHL) 50 per cent interest in South Deepwater Tano Block (SDWT) to Petroleum Oil and Gas Corporation of South Africa (PetroSA).
The Alliance of CSOs working on Extractive, Anti-corruption and Good Governance maintained that the proposed deal to split shares of the SDWT was not in the interest of Ghana and for that reason should be halted immediately.
It followed a letter dated May 16, 2023 by the Minister of Energy, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, directing the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) to cease negotiations with PetroSA on JOHL’s stakes.
At a press conference in Accra yesterday to demand accountability, the CSOs commended the Minister of Energy, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, for stopping the negotiations and called for the resignation of the persons championing the deal at GNPC.
Numbering 32, some of the big names forming the alliance included Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), IMANI Centre for Policy and Education, Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Chamber of Petroleum Consumers Ghana (COPEC), SEND Ghana and Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII).
“We think that the board chair and chief executive officer of GNPC should resign for their involvement in the planned attempt to sell off 50 per cent of JOHL’s stakes in SDWT,” a Senior Economic Analyst at the Natural Resource Governance Institute and member of the alliance, Dr Alex Ampaabeng, told the Daily Graphic after the press conference.
How it started
The Senior Economic Analyst explained that GNPC acquired a seven per cent stake in the sale of Anadarko's interest in the Jubilee and Tweneboa, Enyenra, Ntomme (TEN) fields in 2021.
Dr Ampaabeng said for 2022 alone, the interest of JOHL raked in some $290 million, according to the 2022 annual report of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), although the amount was not lodged in the Petroleum Holding Fund (PHF).
He said the total payments for cash calls (including fields in which Explorco holds an interest) amounted to $83 million, leaving a gross margin of $207 million for GNPC/JOHL, stressing that those were assured risk-free revenues that should have accrued to the PHF.
According to him, despite the revenue potential of this interest to the state, GNPC had initiated steps to sell JOHL’s 50 per cent share of the national asset held in the Cayman Islands to PetroSA, under bizarre circumstances two years after Anadarko sold the asset to GNPC.
Dr Ampaabeng said GNPC agreed to a pre-emption claim of PetroSA although the energy minister has already written to the corporation and the President to oppose the transaction.
“Given that $290 million has already accrued to JOHL, the purchase of 50 per cent imply that PetroSA would receive a percentage of the accrued benefits net of the purchase price and other costs and meaning that PetroSA may not have to pay anything for interest”.
“We are actively monitoring the sharp political tussle for and against the sale of the asset.
This situation was always possible when the government decided to domicile Ghana's asset in a tax haven and refused persistent calls to bring back the asset to the country,” he added.
Illegal pre-emption claims
Dr Ampaabeng said that the pre-emption claims were illegal, and those contemplating it have interests at variance with that of the state.
The spokesperson of the alliance said it was unjustifiable for PetroSA to pre-empt the state's interest without any legal basis in the petroleum (exploration and production) law and the applicable petroleum agreement.
He maintained that for the board chairman and the CEO to have concocted a justification for the pre-emption, their continuous stay in office, close to any petroleum asset, posed significant risks to Ghana's interest in all petroleum operations.
“In these difficult times, the nation needs prudent management of its resources to derive the fullest benefits and bring relief to the suffering masses.
“We encourage citizens to demand accountability on the petroleum sector to ensure that our natural resources benefit the citizenry,” the senior economic analyst added.