Archives Dept. awaits 8-year TULLOW promise

The Public Records and Archives Administration Department (PRAAD) has expressed worry about the stalled project involving a collaboration between the department and Tullow Ghana Limited aimed at resourcing the department towards improving its records keeping management.

Investigations by the Goldstreet Business have revealed that in 2010, representatives from Tullow Ghana Limited, the most successful hydrocarbon exploration and production firm in the country, made a series of visits to PRADD to view maps of Ghana’s boundaries with neighbouring countries, most especially with Ivory Coast.

This followed the emergent dispute between the two countries over their maritime boundary in, which Tullow was an interested party since the dispute centred around ownership of the oil and gas resources recently discovered at the maritime boundary off the shores of the two counties

During the visits, representatives from the exploration firm were made aware of the challenges facing the department and the company expressed interest in developing a sustainable development plan to address the challenges.

Tullow Ghana brought five consultants from The National Archives of England and Wales (TNA) to Ghana to assist in the assessment of investment needed to restructure PRAAD.

However, communications between the two bodies stalled in 2012 after staff of PRAAD and Tullow Ghana had embarked on a tour at the TNA in the United Kingdom.

Speaking to the Goldstreet Business, the Acting Director of PRAAD, Mr. Felix Ampong said the company had pledged to assist the department when they needed archival documents during Ghana’s maritime case with Ivory Coast, but along the way, they withdrew.

“Tullow designated its own staff by name Okyeame Ampadu to champion our cause, but since he resigned, the project has stalled. The new person who took over appears not to be interested in our plight”, he said.

Disputes

Ghana began commercial oil production in 2010 following the discovery of the Jubilee oil field, which produces an estimated 100, 000 barrels per day. Ivory Coast raised concerns over the demarcation of the border and further accused Ghana of carrying out oil exploration in Ivorian territories.

The disputed area is believed by some to hold the biggest hydrocarbon resources in west Africa. Tullow Oil Limited does oil exploration and production on Ghana’s side of the disputed area and that is how came it became an interested party in the dispute with Cote d’Ivoire.

The two countries submitted their cases before the special chamber of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in 2014 after continuous negotiations and mediations had failed to yield results.

In its initial ruling, the court suspended all exploration activities within the disputed area. However, in 2017, the court accepted Ghana’s argument that an equidistance rule be applied in defining the boundary as against Ivory Coast, which had prayed the court to apply a meridian measurement.

Letter to Tullow CEO       

On 23rd February, 2018, the Acting Director of PRAAD, Mr. Ampong, wrote to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tullow Ghana Limited aimed at reviving the collaboration between the two bodies in resourcing the facility.

The department expressed worry over the fast deteriorating nature of important documents at the facility and wanted immediate discussions to resume. The said letter has still not been responded by Tullow Ghana, nine months after it was delivered, checks done by Goldstreet Business have revealed

“We therefore wish to crave your indulgence for a meeting to discuss how best this collaboration can be revived since all the significant challenges faced by the Department still persist and are getting even worse by the day”, the letter said.

Extent of damage   

Checks done by the Goldstreet Business indicate that PRAAD needs close to US$30 million for digitization and restoration of archival repositories. This financial assessment was undertaken by the five consultants Tullow Ghana brought from the TNA, UK.

Our checks further revealed that most of the records at PRAAD were fast deteriorating as documents were made up of paper files which are partly torn, moldy and partially decaying. Our visit to the repository revealed that faulty conditioners and humidifiers have not been replaced for more than 15 years.

According to Mr. Ampong, the department met with the Parliamentary Select Committee on Finance on November 2017. Two members of the committee, Hon. Ato Forson and Hon. John Jinapor suggested they be given Gh¢2 million. However, the department was allocated Gh¢1 million.

“We have cried and lamented all those years without assistance. We were given Gh¢1 million and were informed that the money will come in three tranches, that is, Gh¢1 million for three years”, he said.

Goldstreet Business contacted TNA and below is their response.

“In 2010, The National Archives was approached by Tullow Oil Ghana to assist in the assessment of investment opportunities in the Public Records and Archives Administration Department of Ghana (PRAAD). The National Archives was asked due to their technical expertise and their understanding of the practical aspects of running and maintaining an archive”.

A fact-finding visit was conducted in February 2011 by a team from The National Archives to gather information and gain a practical view of the current situation. A report was subsequently produced which detailed the high-level findings and a series of investment options for Tullow to consider.

“Following the submission of that report and some limited follow-up, clarifications there has been no further interaction with either Tullow Oil or PRAAD to take anything further. TNA acted purely as consultants to assess the situation and was not engaged to complete any further follow-up work”, Shona Lowe, Media Manager said.

As at the time of going to the press, Goldstreet Business has not received any response from Tullow Ghana Limited on the specific issue we were seeking answers for.

By Dundas Whigham