The next few weeks will be critical for Ghana’s medium term economic fortunes as Aker Energy concludes it’s drilling of two more appraisal wells in its oil rich Deepwater Tano exploration block.
Already, the Pecan 4A appraisal well drilling has unearthed enough oil to commence development of the Pecan oilfield, Ghana’s fourth oilfield, but ongoing drilling and subsequent assessment of the results will determine how big the impending oilfield will be, how productive and how it will be developed. Aker Energy expects to submit is plan of development for the Pecan oilfield to government by the end of March, which will incorporate decisions guided by the latest, ongoing drilling and assessment programme, the company’s chief executive, Jan Arve Haugen has revealed.
Already, the appraisal drilling at the Pecan 4A well has indicated an estimated 450-550 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe), enough to set up an oilfield that produces some 125,000 barrels per day. However Aker is hoping that the two subsequent wells being drilled and assessed could indicate an increase in estimated reserves to somewhere between 600 – 1,000 mmboe. The upper end of that range could support production of some 200,000 bpd which would effectively double Ghana’s oil production which currently stands at about 200,000 from the Jubilee, TEN Cluster and Sankofa oilfields.
Already Aker is considering a plan of development that would enable a phased development of the Pecan field with first oil from the first phase taking place as early as late 2020, as the company prepares to leverage on its long and intense experience in the Norwegian sea and its access to the latest technologies. However some oil engineers see this as over-ambitious, even if the first phase is designed as a relatively small one just to get production up and running in order to generate part of the monies needed for a full-blown field development. Indeed the development of the field will be a drawn out affair as Aker has already identified multiple targets to be drilled as part of a greater area development outside of the initial plan of development to be submitted to government for approval some six weeks from now.
Government itself will accede to an accelerated, albeit phased, plan of development. Initially, subsequent to Aker’s acquisition of Hess Ghana’s exploration properties in Ghana at the start of 2018, the company had announced that it expected to have an approved plan of development in place before the end of last year, with first oil scheduled for 2021. However that was before the Pecan 4A discovery and expectations of further major discoveries in the area, which provides the foundation for a much bigger oilfield than originally anticipated and a full-blown field development could push first oil forward as far.
Government on its part however has put it hopes on the impending Pecan’s oil export revenues, which it expects to start flowing in just as the repayment of the series of Eurobonds issued during the tenure of the Mahama administration start falling due for repayment. The then Finance Minister Seth Terkper never hid his expectation that the large foreign loans taken between 2014 and 2016 would be serviced and ultimately amortized from increasing oil export revenues as Ghana discovers new oil deposits and brings them into production.
By Toma Imirhe