Government risks dampening investor confidence in the country’s petroleum upstream industry by remaining tight-lipped on the ongoing unitisation tussle between Eni Ghana and Springfield Exploration and Production, the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), has warned.
“Unfortunately, the government’s silence amid raging media war is unhealthy for creating a competitive and assuring environment to the investor community,” the energy think-tank said in a statement to the B&FT.
It stressed that the negative press associated with these issues has the potential to undermine the progress made over the years to encourage investments into Ghana’s upstream petroleum sector.
This, ACEP added, is further worsened by the current global context of the energy transition, which is engineering a significant shift from fossil fuel investment to low carbon energy sources. “The positive response of major oil producers and investors to the transition is promoting alternative energy sources that are significantly suppressing the demand growth for fossil fuels.”
It therefore demanded that government informs the public on the basis of its unitisation directive in an effort to diffuse the local and international controversies on the matter, a move it said could help stem growing anxiety within the investor community.
In the spirit of transparency, ACEP also believes that the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) should not have been assumed as the independent arbiter, given that GNPC is an interested party and, by law, a partner to every investor in the sector.
Instructively, it said an independent body such as the Petroleum Commission, appointed by Eni and Springfield, would have been better suited in this case.
“The position of GNPC and Eni also contests Ghana’s Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Law’s provisions on unitisation and the regulations developed to operationalise it. Therefore, ACEP suggests the immediate interpretation of the provisions on unitisation by the Attorney General to guide the government’s position,” it further urged.
Former Energy Minister John Peter Amewu in an April 2020 letter directed that the Sankofa Gye Nyame (SGN) Field belonging to Eni and Springfield’s West Cape Three Points’ (WCTP) Afina discovery, be unitised. More than a year on, the directive has yet to complied with and the government meanwhile, has remained silent on the matter ever since.