By Agnes Ansah .
Policy think tank Imani Ghana has revealed that a Norwegian, but Ghanaian-based exploration and production company, Aker Energy, does not own Pecan south and east oil blocks discovered early this year.
According to the Vice President of Imani, Mr Kofi Bentil, the company has assumed ownership of the two oil blocks it discovered early this year though its period of exploration has expired.
“If you find oil outside the exploration period, it is not automatically yours, what you are suppose to do legally is to inform the government of the finds and enter negotiations with the government regarding that find, but Aker assumed it does not need to negotiate ownership with the government, and proceeded to consider the property as his.
“Apart from the announcement it made, it proceeded to assume that the finds belong to them under the same terms and conditions they inherited it.”
Mr Bentil, who was speaking at a presser in Accra yesterday, explained that Aker Energy took over and inherited from an exploration company called HESS, and became lead partners and managers of the Deep Water Tano Cape 3 Point block.
He said that HESS, before its departure, had signed a contract with the Government of Ghana in 2006, which allowed it to pay 20% of whatever it discovered as royalties to the government. As a result, Aker didn’t bother to sign a new contract with the government, but operated under the same conditions as HESS, but this contract expired in 2013.
He continued that the contract signed in 2006 expired under Aker in the year 2013.
According to Mr Bentil, the Act 919 of the petroleum agreement indicates that if a company makes a new find after its exploration period has expired, those new finds don’t belong to the company, but rather the government.
Mr Bentil said that the 2006 contract signed by HESS expired in 2013, and since Aker inherited its assets from HESS, it was also operating on an expired agreement.
He said, instead of renewing the agreement to become legitimate owners of the new find, Aker Energy went ahead and assumed automatic ownership of the Pecan South and East blocks, since the discovery in February this year. The only thing it did was to announce that it had discovered new oil blocks in Africa, and precisely, Ghana.
“This is a breach of the law, because our law doesn’t permit Aker to assume ownership of new finds it makes after its exploration period has expired.”
Mr Bentil also revealed that another problem was that the petroleum law demands that after one makes discoveries after its expiration period and wishes to continue drilling, it needs to go into negotiations with the government to enable the government get its take.
He said that though Aker had presented a Program of Development (PoD) to the government, indicating it wants to negotiate, it had rather given conditions to the government instead of the government giving conditions to it, and said it was unacceptable.
“In simple terms, if you have an existing find and you make a new find, the normal legal and technical thing to do is to determine whether the new find is part of the existing find, and if it’s not, you do the right thing by doing a renegotiation.”
He said that Imani is not against the exploration of oil by foreign companies or any other company, but will not condone their attitude.
“We are happy to have you; we are happy to work with them, but we are not happy if you walk all over us in our country, and we are not happy if our leaders allow you to do that to us, and that’s the issue we have with Aker.”