GNPC CEO’s vision and action propel transformation in oil and gas sector


In a notable departure from conventional norms, Opoku-Ahweneeh Danquah, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), is reshaping leadership within the public service. He is spearheading systematic initiatives aimed at revitalising the domestic oil and gas sector.

Mr. Danquah’s dynamic approach, steadfast commitment and innovative initiatives are driving GNPC into a new era of efficiency, innovation and employee welfare. His proactive engagement in the global oil and gas arena, local sector activities and forward-thinking approach are shaping a legacy of success.

Proactive global vision

The GNPC CEO defies the stereotype of a desk-bound executive, exemplifying a proactive spirit and a relentless drive for tangible outcomes. In the dynamic industry of oil and gas, agility, adaptability and a global perspective are essential – qualities he embodies fully. Beyond transforming GNPC, he is charting the course for the future of the country’s oil and gas sector.

His tireless efforts, strategic decisions and people-centric approach serve as a beacon of hope for excellence in public service. Last year, he was honoured with the prestigious Oil and Gas Industry Leadership Award at the Africa Public Sector Conference and Awards, highlighting his significant contributions to the sector.

This esteemed award recognises top-performing executives who drive value and transformation across the continent and beyond through innovation and exemplary leadership in the oil and gas sector. As he navigates the globe, building partnerships and attracting investments, Ghana’s energy landscape undergoes a transformation under his vigilant stewardship.

Having a strategic necessity inherent to his position, the CEO of GNPC frequently engages with key decision-makers outside the country, recognising that major oil companies and financial institutions seldom have their key decision-makers stationed in Ghana.

Mr. Danquah’s global presence is crucial for securing foreign direct investments (FDIs), which comprise the majority, if not all, of the upstream oil and gas investments in the country.

When asked recently about his diligent efforts, he responded: “87 percent of funding that drives African fossil fuel development is from the Global North – that is North America, Europe, Australia, in addition to Asia”.

“When you take Ghana as a case study, you realise that the percentage is probably over 95 percent. We are still very much dependent on foreign financing; and this dependence will continue unless we build the technical, commercial and financial capacity to operate our fields and reinvest the proceeds,” he explains.

This underscores why GNPC’s aspiration for operatorship under Mr. Danquah in the Voltaian Basin is pivotal. It aims to enhance the corporation’s stakes in the country’s petroleum proceeds, shifting away from the minority-carried interest that GNPC and Ghana have typically received in existing petroleum agreements.

Moreover, in an era marked by the energy transition agenda and environmental, social and governance (ESG) requirements for international lending, Mr. Danquah’s adept negotiation skills and personal touch are indispensable for securing crucial funding from international banks, investors and multinationals.

Domestic unwavering action

Apart from his proactive approach transcending the traditional desk-bound leadership, he is championing a dynamic way of working, leveraging modern technologies and adapting to changing paradigms.

For instance, under his leadership, GNPC has experienced a remarkable transformation. Danquah has introduced forward-thinking policies focused on improving employee welfare and enhancing organisational efficiency.

One of his notable achievements is linking staff bonuses to both attendance and departmental goal achievements, resulting in a substantial increase in productivity.

The corridors of the GNPC staff resonate with the familiar adage: “the harder we work, the luckier we become” – a sentiment echoed by the CEO during one of his routine staff meetings in the pursuit of oil discovery in the Voltaian Basin.

When asked about his policy of aligning some benefits with employee productivity, he answered: “There was pushback when I tried to push this policy through and there is still pushback, but how can you rationalise diligence in a thousand-step journey to become an operator when some staff cannot even take the first step to be present at work. Let’s reward hard workers, discourage absenteeism, and encourage industriousness”.

Under Mr. Danquah’s leadership, a remarkable transformation has taken place. Through various organisational development initiatives, a culture of commitment and accountability has been cultivated. Employees now understand the importance of their presence, leading to a significant decrease in absenteeism.

The GNPC team is more engaged, focused and aligned with organisational objectives. With his digital transformation initiatives, excessive paper memos – once ubiquitous in the Ghanaian public service – are now relics of the past at GNPC.

Equally significant, the CEO has spearheaded a digital revolution, ensuring the seamless operation of most systems in a digital environment. In his drive to position GNPC as an upstream operator, he has leveraged technology to streamline competency management, project tracking and communication channels. These efforts have accelerated decision-making processes and minimised bureaucratic hurdles.

His vision transcends mere theory; he advocates practical training with real-world impact. He has overhauled employee training, placing a strong emphasis on practical workshops and hands-on sessions. As a result, GNPC staff acquire skills that directly influence their daily work.

Whether it’s drilling techniques, safety protocols or project management, the focus is on practical value. The result is competent professionals who drive GNPC’s success.

Furthermore, he has instituted progressive policies for a modern workplace: remote working is no longer an exception; it’s a policy. Mr. Danquah recognises that flexibility enhances productivity and work-life balance.

Other policies that GNPC has put in place are those against workplace harassment, bullying and violence.

Mental health support has also been prioritised under his watch, fostering a healthier work environment.

These initiatives have revitalised employee relations within GNPC. Under Danquah’s leadership, Consumer Price Index (CPI) increases in wages were reinstated, acknowledging the dedication of GNPC’s workforce to excel despite unfavourable external factors.

Negotiations under his tenure have also resulted in a unique conditions-of-service agreement for the senior staff union. Collective bargaining discussions for all employees have ensured fairness and transparency.

The GNPC CEO emphasises the importance of every employee’s contributions, from engineers to administrative staff, which is why he is deeply committed to his open-door policy. One of his notable achievements is empowering managers for corporate success. Through cross-functional rotations, a technique employed by leading multinational firms in HR, he has dismantled departmental silos and fostered idea-sharing within the corporation.

He believes that managers are instrumental to GNPC’s future success and shoulder a significant portion of the corporation’s workload. Acknowledging their pivotal role, the CEO has promoted more managers than ever before, understanding that effective leadership is essential for driving the corporation’s growth. Whether it involves optimising exploration strategies or managing production portfolios, these managers serve as the backbone of GNPC.

Legacy in the making

Mr. Danquah’s influence goes beyond reshaping GNPC; he is moulding Ghana’s energy sector. With diverse responsibilities that transcend national borders, his extensive international industry background aligns perfectly with the country’s current needs.

His contributions to the growth of the oil and gas sector and the overall development of the nation are remarkable, especially considering the complexities of his role.

His legacy? A results-driven leadership style that extends beyond national borders. The future of the country’s oil and gas sector shines brighter under his vigilant stewardship.

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