Ghana clears maritime doubt
The Chairman of the Licensing Bid Rounds and Negotiation (LBRN) Committee, Mr Lawrence Asangongo Apaalse has reassured global oil giants clamouring for oil blocks offshore Keta-Accra basin to the east and Saltpond-Tano basins to the west of dispute-free space for investment.
A speculated maritime border dispute said to be between Ghana and Togo over offshore oil exploration activities should not deter any investor since the demarcations are clear on the country’s space and continental shelf is clearly defined, he assures.
At the confab
Mr Apaalse, who is also the Chief Director at the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum was speaking to a large number of investors at the just ended Offshore North Sea (ONS 2018) conference in Stavanger, Norway, which featured a trade mission from Ghana.
In outlining hung offshore investment opportunities in the country’s upstream sector and other support services, using the map to illustrate his point, Mr Apaalse demonstrated areas which Ghana is free to explore within its territory as well as areas towards Cote d’Ivoire – saying, “any investment along those lines to the west you have no problem.”
He acknowledged the fact that Togo had, between December 2017 and May 2018, stopped two Ghanaian-led seismic vessels from undertaking seismic activities to acquire seismic data in the deep sea and that it should not deter investors.
Ghana, he said, would not engage in disputes with its neighbours, adding that it applied the accepted formulae and that during its resolutions with Cote d’Ivoire, Togo sat through and observed the process unfold. Ghana, does not share a boundary with Nigeria on land, but within the maritime space it does, he said, pointing out that international law addresses the Ghana-Nigeria situation.
Through Ghana-Norway Oil for Development collaboration, Ghana met the international requirements by well defining its boundaries as a requirement for extension.
“One of the conditions the United Nations is looking for is that, countries seeking for extension must first define their boundaries to the left and to the right,” he said.
The history of the disagreements
The disagreements, he said, did not start today and was revisited in 2009 in Abuja, Nigeria during an interaction between English and French-speaking Africans, resulting in fierce confrontations leading later to the uncontested clause for ECOWAS member states to establish a continental shelve beyond 200 nautical miles. The no-objection clause was acknowledged by the UN as one of the best cooperation moves among members at regional and sub-regional levels.Mr Apaalse, who is currently a technical advisor to the Ghana Boundary Commission (GBC) overseeing the delimitation of Ghana’s maritime boundaries, said on land and offshore the country shares border with Togo.
“I can assure you that our maritime space is now more than 10,000-square meters, more than our landmass, so you see we have more space for you to invest in,” he said.
2019 confab in Ghana
He said there would be a convergence of industry players and resource managers in the First Quarter of 2019 to critically look at industry dynamics. Mr Apaalse said the first quarter forum would look at the exploitation of resources beyond national jurisdiction. “I must tell you we are exploring every aspect of the ocean,” he assured the gathering.
The gathering acknowledged Mr Apaalse, who was the National Coordinator of the Ghana National Continental Shelf Delineation Project (GNCSDP) and oversaw the preparation of Ghana’s Submission to the United Nations' Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) for the establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles in line with Article 76 of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). At a Ghana Day exhibition during the conference, the Chief Executive Officer of the Petroleum Commission, Mr. Egbert Faibille Jnr., said there are opportunities in front end engineering design, fabrication and construction. Mr. Faibille Jr. was highly commended for his and the rest of the Petroleum Commission’s demonstration of a spirit of a country desirous to get it right.