two blocks reserved for GNPC
With bidding for exploration blocks in the Ghana’s western oil basin having closed earlier this week, preparations are now underway to commence the bidding process for exploration blocks in the Voltaian Basin in the eastern part of the country. Most of the blocks that will be available will be onshore, creating a new frontier for Ghana’s emergent upstream oil and gas industry which so far is entirely located off the shores of the Western Region.
So far six exploration blocks have been delineated in the Voltaian Basin where Goldstreet Business can confirm that two of them are the East Keta Block and the Onshore/Offshore Keta Delta Block respectively. However two of the six blocks so far delineated are being reserved for exploration by the state owned Ghana National Petroleum Corporation which aims to engage in exploration activities in collaboration with an established international oil firm with a view to acquiring the requisite expertise and experience to evolve into a major upstream operator itself over the coming few years.
GNPC has been conducting a 2D seismic survey of the Voltaian Basin, which it started in 2018 and expects to complete imminently. It has already started processing the data acquired and according to the corporation, early assessments have been extraordinarily encouraging, presenting expectations that sooner or later Ghana will be able to develop major oilfields there. The ongoing data analysis follows a six year reconnaissance programme involving environmental impact assessment, community relations management, acquisition of 1,700 square kilometers of data on a regional scale, and geo-chemical sampling of sub-surface gas.
Indeed exploration of the Voltaian Basin has assumed the status of GNPC’s flagship project and it has scheduled the drilling of two conventional exploratory wells for 2020. It is expected that this will be accompanied at the same time by the commencement of the bidding process for the other four blocks which will be open to bids from both foreign and local private exploration and production companies.
Instructively, GNPC has begun heavily in social projects in the Volta Region, especially the provision of schools infrastructure, in a bid to generate the requisite goodwill from the local populace ahead of its impending exploration activities, which will have a bigger impact, in terms of displacement of host communities, than similar activities in the Western Basin which have all been offshore.
But the immediate task is to complete the allocation process for the nine exploration blocks being bid for in the Western Basin. Government hopes to have completed the block allocation process there by the end of July this year and negotiations with winners are scheduled to commence between August and October.
Government is employing a deliberate strategy of finishing with the Western Basin allocations before commencing those in the Voltaian Basin for a cogent reason. This is that the area already has requisite infrastructure including two pipelines to the shore, and three FPSOs (with a fourth in the offing for the impending Pecan oilfield to be operated by Aker Energy). These assets could facilitate the fast tracking of producing fields out of any further discoveries.
The bidding process is supervised and managed by the Ministry of Energy through its dedicated Licensing Bid Rounds & Negotiations (LBRN) Committee which comprises 23 members drawn from the Ministry itself, GNPC, Environmental Protection Authority, Ghana Revenue Authority, Ministry of Finance, Attorney General’s Department, Petroleum Commission and the Ghana Maritime Authority. This in line with Section 56 of the Petroleum (Exploration & Production) Act 2016, Act 919.
By Toma Imirhe