Ghanaians put rules in place

A legal and regulatory framework for managing its oil and gas resources has finally been created by Ghana, a relative newcomer to the industry. This process has enjoyed good support from Norway’s Oil for Development (OfD) programme.

| Bjørn Rasen

Accra is the capital of Ghana, where the Norwegian authorities have been the preferred adviser for adopting a new petroleum Act. (Photo: OMG Voice)

Accra is the capital of Ghana, where the Norwegian authorities have
been the preferred adviser for adopting a new petroleum Act.
(Photo: OMG Voice)


Everything’s now up to the powers that be,” says Gilbert Aboagye Da Costa, publisher and editor-in-chief of Ghana Offshore. “The question is whether we can break the oil curse which has hit several other African countries.”

He has followed developments in the west African nation since returning there in 2010 from a period as Nigeria correspondent for the BBC, the Associated Press and Time.

His view of what has taken place is largely positive, but he remains concerned: “To succeed, it’s essential to create openness about and transparency in the petroleum economy.”

Ghana passed a petroleum Act in the 1980s but needed to revise it, explains Erik Abrahamsen, the NPD’s coordinator for the OfD programme from 2008 to 2016.

“Work on new legislation began in 2010. Our contribution has been to give the Ghanaians ownership of the process, so that the product was ‘theirs’.

“We’ve backed them in ensuring good petroleum administration, good data management and operating parameters for safety. They’ve now got the tools to manage their resources well.”

The new petroleum Act was adopted in August and, with a new Petroleum Commission similar to the NPD in place, the country should be well placed to achieve good resource management.

Advisers from Norway became involved in the process at an early stage to provide suggestions when the Ghanaians needed them most.

Abrahamsen feels it has been a rewarding journey and that the collaboration has gone well. A number of delegations from Ghana – including one with the president – have visited Norway.

“It remains to be seen how successful all this will be,” Abrahamsen adds.

His successor in the project, Svein Arne Svilosen, reports that the NPD and the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) will now support the Ghanaian government in writing regulations under the new Act.

One for metering was adopted in November, and others on data management, health, safety and the environment, and general petroleum provisions are in the pipeline.

Once these have been adopted, Ghana will have finished the job of erecting a legal framework for its petroleum industry. This currently involves a daily output of roughly 100 000 barrels.

This production derives from the Jubilee and Ten offshore fields, both operated by Tullow. Start-up preparations are under way on the Sankofa field operated by Eni, which also contains a good deal of gas.