Ghana-Ivory Coast boundary dispute settled
- Ghana keeps oil fields
- Boundary clearly delineated
Ghana did not violate the sovereign rights of Côte d’Ivoire in undertaking oil exploration activities in its territorial waters offshore Cape Three Points in the Western Region close to the maritime boundary between the two West African states, The Special Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea has ruled.
The Chamber, which was constituted to deal with the dispute concerning delimitation of the maritime boundary between Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire in the Atlantic Ocean delivered its judgement on Saturday September 23, which validated Ghana’s claim that active oil wells and on-going exploration activities in the Jubilee, Sankofa and TEN oil Fields fall within the territorial waters of Ghana.
The ITLOS upheld Ghana’s claim that the methodology governing the delimitation of maritime boundary between the two contesting states is the equidistance method and not the angular bisector theory advanced by Cote D’Ivoire.
This decision, essentially places all active and on-going oil and gas exploration activities by Ghana within its territorial waters.
The ITOLS , however, rejected Ghana’s claims that there was a tacit agreement between the Parties to delimit their territorial sea, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf both within and beyond 200 nm.
It further rejected Ghana’s claim that Côte d’Ivoire is estopped from objecting to the “customary equidistance boundary” and went ahead to clearly delineate the boundary between the two countries (see Image 1).
Although the maritime boundary dispute between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire has existed for a long time, it was reignited around 2010 --the year Ghana started commercial production of oil.
In 2011, the Ivorian authorities published a map with a new order, claiming portions of Ghanaian oil blocks.
Seismic data from the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), the regulator of the country’s upstream petroleum sector, showed that the disputed area covers portions of the Jubilee Field, Tweneboa, Enyenra, the Owo discoveries, West Tano-1X find and the deep-water Tano block, all found on the west coast of Ghana’s territorial waters.
GNPC had already allocated some of those blocks to oil companies, including Tullow and Kosmos, to explore and develop for commercial oil production.
Both countries were claiming ownership of the territory, which energy experts said at the time, holds an estimated two billion barrels of oil reserves and 1.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
The dispute was submitted to a special chamber formed in application of article 15, paragraph 2, of the Statute of the Tribunal by way of a special agreement concluded between the two States concerned on 3 December 2014.
On 25 April 2015, the Special Chamber delivered its Order on a request for the prescription of provisional measures filed by Côte d’Ivoire. Further to the closure of the written proceedings, hearings on the merits of the case took place from 6 to 16 February 2017. The two parties made their respective submission and a final judgement delivered on Saturday September 23, 2017.
Image: New Ghana-Ivory Coast Boundary set by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
Tullow Ghana reacts
Tullow Oil plc (Tullow), which has interest in two exploration licenses offshore Ghana, in statement on Saturday said the: “Special Chamber of the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Hamburg [ on Saturday] made its decision with regard to the maritime boundary dispute between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. The new maritime boundary as determined by the tribunal does not affect the TEN fields…”
The company assured of its commitment to work with government to restart development drilling in the TEN fields.
“Tullow will now work with the Government of Ghana to put in place the necessary permits to allow the restart of development drilling in the TEN fields. Tullow expects to resume drilling around the end of the year which will allow production from the TEN fields to start to increase towards the FPSO design capacity of 80,000 bopd,” the company said.
Paul Mcdade, Tullow’s CEO said: “Tullow looks forward to continuing to work constructively with the Governments of both Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire following the conclusion of this process. While the TEN fields have performed well during the period of the drilling moratorium, we can now restart work on the additional drilling planned as part of the TEN fields’ plan of development and take the fields towards their full potential.”