Magazine article New African

Ghana Oil: A Crude Awakening

Magazine article New African

Ghana Oil: A Crude Awakening

Article excerpt

To the uninitiated, oil exploration in Ghana is a fairly recent phenomenon, but in fact the first wells in the country were drilled in the 1890s. At that time, as Stephen Williams reports, local wags renamed the Gold Coast, as it was officially known in the colonial era, as the Seep Coast-on account of the number of tar balls and other evidence of oil that was found along the coast.

In the 1890s, the idea of drilling for oil off the shore of Ghana would have been considered hare-brained, and even in 1978, when Ghana became a modest onshore oil producer, the concept of drilling for black gold out in the ocean would have been considered novel, if not outrageous thinking.

In 1995, the government of President Jerry Ratings offered onshore and offshore acreages to international companies. Hunt Oil of the USA took the plunge. It acquired offshore acreage in the Cape Three Points Basin, leading the way for a slew of other companies to be attracted to Ghana's hydrocarbon potential.

After more than a decade of exploration, the country struck appreciable commercial oil in June 2007, located 60km offshore between the Deepwater Tango and West Cape Three Points blocks. The field's recoverable reserves have been variously thought to be more than 370 million barrels, 600 million barrels, 950 million barrels and even 1.8 billion barrels! But one thing is agreed on; the oil is located in a water depth of more than 1,000 meters.

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The equity partners of the Deepwater Tano block are Tullow with 49-95%, Kosmos with 18%, Anadarko with 18%, Sabre Oil & Gas with

The field delivered first oil in December 2010. By May 2011, BH it was producing 70,000 barrels of oil each day from a total Of five wells.

Reinforcing the extent of the jubilee Field, in July 2011 Hess Corp, a US-based oil and gas company, announced that it had found significant oil and gas at its Paradise-1 exploration well offshore Ghana in the Deepwater Tano-Cape Three Points area. Hess owns 90%, with the Ghana National Petroleum Corp, the state-owned oil company, owning the remaining 10%

Kosmas Energy Ltd, based in Dallas, also reported an oil deposit three metres thick in its Banda exploration well in an adjacent West Cape Three Points lease. This confirms that Ghana's Jubilee Field is the largest oil field to be discovered in West Africa in recent times.

"This is a new field; we cannot rush it," says Tullow's chief executive, Aidan Heavey. We cannot push to ramp-up production to get high numbers so everything looks great, and then damage the wells. …

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