19 thoughts on “Ghanaian riches for oil multinationals, poverty for the people?

  1. Media Foundation for West Africa (Accra)

    Côte d’Ivoire: Clampdown On Journalists Intensified

    26 July 2010

    Patrice Pohe, journalist and a communication adviser of Raymond Tchimou, the state prosecutor, was on July 21, 2010 arrested and detained on the orders of his boss for allegedly leaking the report about embezzlement in the cocoa and coffee sector of the country to the privately-owned Le Nouveau Courrier newspaper.

    The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) correspondent in Cote d’Ivoire reported that Pohe’s arrest followed a long grilling session with Allan Alliali, managing editor of privately-owned Le Quotidian newspaper.

    The correspondent said the two were interrogated separately before another face-to-face session for nearly for nine hours. Pohe was on July 17, interrogated together with Boni Rosine, secretary to the state prosecutor for about six hours. Pohe was expected to appear in court on July 23.

    The Plateau Court in Abidjan, capital of Cote d’Ivoire trying three detained editors of Le Nouveau Courrier, on July 23, adjourned the case to July 26 without reason.

    Meanwhile, the Ivorian police have scuttled a picket by the Ivorian Committee for Protection of Journalists (CIPJ) to protest the clamp down on journalists in the country. The police seized a camera and two cellular phones from the journalists and have since returned the equipment to them.


  2. African Confidential (London)

    Ghana: Storm in an Oil Barrel Over the Kosmos-ExxonMobil Sale

    26 July 2010

    The grand launch of Ghana’s commercial oil production this year has begun inauspiciously with a bruising battle between the government and the state oil company on one hand and American oil company Kosmos Energy on the other (AC Vol 51 No 7). Kosmos had announced last September that it wanted to sell its stake in the country’s Jubilee oil field to the giant ExxonMobil corporation in an exclusive deal for US$4.2 billion. Since then, President John Atta Mills’s government has blocked the deal, initially because of a complex dispute between the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation and Kosmos about the company’s use of Ghana’s geophysical data in the sale negotiations.

    Yet the affair has taken a further political, and even geopolitical, twist. This year, Attorney General Betty Mould-Iddrissu has charged Kosmos’s local partners, EO Group, with contravening corporate and anti-corruption laws. EO, which drew up the original petroleum agreement, had brought Kosmos to Ghana and secured a 3.5% interest in the West Cape Three Points oil block which it helped Kosmos to negotiate with the GNPC in 2004. In a further complication, the two EO directors, George Owusu and Kwame Bawuah Edusei, are friends of former President John Agyekum Kufuor, under whose government their oil contract was secured, and strong supporters of his New Patriotic Party (NPP).

    Should the Kosmos sale go through, Owusu, Edusei and any other beneficial shareholders in EO may gain $200 million and so become Ghana’s first oil multimillionaires. Many loyalists in Mills’s National Democratic Congress fear that Owusu and Edusei may use the windfall to fund the NPP’s next election campaign and secure a huge advantage over the incumbent but financially shaky NDC. Such concerns prompted America’s Anadarko, which works in Ghana, to commission a due diligence report on EO’s relations with GNPC and the government. Anadarko sent the 1,200-page report by Washington lawyers Willkie Farr & Gallagher to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to check whether any US company in Ghana would violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act if they went into partnership with EO.


    After that, the DOJ launched a nine-month investigation into Kosmos and EO operations. This June, the DOJ told both companies it had completed investigations and would not pursue a prosecution. However, Mould- Iddrissu says she has enough evidence to prosecute EO. Although GNPC categorically rejected the Kosmos sale to ExxonMobil in June, both US companies maintained direct contact with the government. Last week, at meetings with Mills’s team in Osu Castle, ExxonMobil put forward new proposals which appear to have persuaded Mills to give them another hearing. Under pressure from both detractors and promoters of the ExxonMobil deal, Mills has formed a committee to examine the options and report back within the month.

    Some insiders claim that setting up the committee is a tactical defeat for GNPC but others say Mills wants to spread the blame for the final decision by taking the widest possible soundings. Whatever he decides, he will face organised opposition. If he approves the Kosmos-EO sale, his own NDC supporters will slam him for rubber-stamping a Kufuor-era deal which might hugely benefit his political opponents. Yet if Mills rejects the deal, he will face opprobrium from the NPP and many business people, who were hoping for substantial commercial gains if ExxonMobil comes to Ghana.

    Mills and his government would have to be convinced that any alternative strategy to the Kosmos-ExxonMobil sale would generate more revenue and contribute more effectively to the integrated oil and gas industry the government wants. In turn, this pressures the committee to produce a convincing conclusion and strategy to break the impasse. This week, it discussed the ExxonMobil offer in detail; next week it is likely to hear the terms of a possible offer fromNorway’s Statoil in conjunction with the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC).

    Few details have emerged about the Statoil-CNOOC offer but it is thought to include financing provisions for downstream development, such as a refinery and a petrochemical plant, and a mechanism to allow GNPC to take another 3% equity in the Jubilee field. Mills has pulled together an experienced group with some past and present NDC ministers. Chairing the committee is the former World Bank Vice- President and current Executive Director of the International Growth Centre at the London School of Economics, Gobind Nankani. Alongside him are former Finance Minister Kwesi Botchwey, former Prime Minister Paul Victor Obeng, Trade Minister Hannah Tetteh and GNPC Director Kyeretwie Opoku.

    The committee may wonder how a commercial dispute between GNPC and a small US oil company escalated into a dispute that risks damaging diplomatic relations between the two countries. Just over a year ago, US President Barack Obama chose Ghana for his first official African trip. Addressing Parliament in Accra, Obama praised Ghana’s record on governance and economic reform. Yet in March, The Wall Street Journal ran an opinion piece entitled ‘Ghana beats up on its biggest foreign investors’. It argued that GNPC’s opposition to the Kosmos deal was ‘capricious government meddling’ and the ‘kind of official thuggery more frequently associated with Nigeria’.

    Near the centre of this campaign is veteran Washington lobbyist Riva Levinson, who successfully managed press relations in the USA for Jonas Savimbi’s União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola rebels in the 1980s and early 1990s. Some Ghanaians are amusing themselves by circulating an unedited promotional video in which Levinson declares: ‘We are either a problem-solver or a troublemaker…I have a company in Ghana, an oil and gas company that went and invested a billion dollars. Now the government of Ghana has changed the terms of the original agreement… for somebody like Kosmos Energy it’s knowing that I can go to the Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, the head of the International Financial Corporation [which has lent Kosmos more than $100 mn.], members of Congress and get them to advocate on the company’s behalf.’

    Behind the bluster, Ghana is losing time and revenue as the Kosmos/EO saga drags on, along with the chance to shape its own oil and gas development plan as global demand rises sharply. If Ghana makes the right choices it could develop into the region’s second-biggest oil centre, offering industry services and expertise to several new oil producers along the West African seaboard. Get it wrong, as Energy Minister Joe Oteng-Adjei warns, and Ghana will join the already populous ranks of badly managed oil-producing states in Africa.


  3. The Nation (Nairobi)

    Equatorial Guinea: Scrap U.S. $3 Million Obiang Prize, Rights Groups Tell Unesco

    Tamba Jean-Matthew III

    14 August 2010

    Human Rights Watch and 95 partner groups have urged Unesco to cancel the Obiang Prize at its next session in October.

    In a statement to the world body’s executive board members, the groups insisted that the prize be cancelled definitively “rather than simply postponed.”

    In June, Unesco agreed to delay the prize to allow for further consultation, following a public outcry from a diverse group across the world.

    The groups then thanked the body’s director-general, Irina Bokova, and the executive board for recognising their concerns.Offends standards and goals

    “A prize in President Teodoro Obiang’s name or supported by money provided by him offends the very standards and goals Unesco promotes,” the groups said in their statement.

    President Obiang of Equatorial Guinea along with his Congolese counterpart Dennis Sasso Nguesso are being pursued by rights groups in France for allegedly stealing public funds to purchase several palaces in France and elsewhere.

    Despite Equatorial Guinea’s vast wealth from natural resources — which gives it the highest per-capita GDP in sub-Saharan Africa — it has shocking low health and development indicators.

    And rights groups suspect that the dictator is using the ill-acquired wealth to fund the $3 million Obiang Prize that he wants Unesco to support.

    Instead, the groups want the $3 million offered by Obiang diverted to education and health in Equatorial Guinea.


  4. High hopes for Ghana oil field

    GHANA: Offshore oil fields operated by London-based Tullow Oil could more than double production to 250,000 barrels a day by 2014, the company announced today.

    Tullow’s first field off Ghana, Jubilee, started in November and should be producing 120,000 barrels a day by July, top executive Paul McDade said.

    Seperately the company chief Aidan Heavey reported that the firm has agreed with the Ugandan government the terms of a deal that will allow it to sell a portion of its oil licenses in that country to French transnational Total and China’s state owned National Offshore Oil Company.



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  13. Ghanaian oil workers face legal sanctions over industrial action

    Workers operating an oil production and storage (FPSO) vessel off the coast of Ghana, involved in a sit-in last month, have been threatened with legal action to recover the cost from their action.

    MODEC, the company threatening prosecution of the workers, carries out engineering, procurement, construction, installation, operation and maintenance of floating production systems. This also includes Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessels and Floating Storage and Offloading (FSO) vessels.

    The oil workers staged a sit-in demanding an end to the huge difference between expatriate income and Ghanaian workers’ wages carrying out the same tasks. The 27 workers on the FPSO vessel, Kwame Nkrumah, have been sacked, leading to calls for the strike to be expanded nationwide across the entire energy industry.



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