Panellists at the just-ended Ghana Energy Summit have called on government of Ghana to ensure that seismic and other geological data about the oil and gas sector are made available to investors seeking to participate in the country’s energy sector.
The West African nation’s recent licensing bid round for six oil blocks in the Western Basin was poorly patronized because of challenges including gaps in the legislative instruments as well as low quality of data on the blocks.
“Our basins are largely not de-risked, significant data gaps and low data quality still exist, and many companies continue to site our fiscal regime as disincentives. The recent results of Ghana’s first licensing round, although not satisfactory in terms of the response rate, has confirmed the fears about a developing industry and the risk associated with frontier areas,” Ghana’s Energy Minister John-Peter Amewu said recently.
Speaking on the theme ‘Leveraging the opportunities in the energy sector’, Joe Mensah, CEO of Kosmos Energy, and Mr. Kweku Andoh Awotwi-Managing Director of Tullow Ghana and Executive Vice President of Tullow Oil Plc, argued that accessing data in the sector is extremely difficult, and government needs to make such important data available to investors willing to invest in the space.
“Regulation is very, very important. Back in the day, we were trying to go to the data room to look at data and decide whether we want to go to a certain area to explore. It took us about three months to really agree on a one-page confidentiality document. Back and forth, and they finally went to the minister and said, ‘Please, we have to do something here’.
“Someone wants to come to your country and look at data and potentially invest billions of dollars, and you put this roadblock here to prevent that individual from coming here. What good is it for you?” Mr. Mensah said.
He asked government to make it much easier for investors, but also make sure the data is available early.
“Make the bar low enough for the person to come in; in fact, make it free for them to come in and look at the data. When they go out and discover or find something, then you can open up your chest and say ‘Now I want something. Now I want this’. That is the way you go about it.
“Today, there is nothing [no exploration] happening out there; and if we do not get our act together and accelerate the pace, we will plateau – and once we start coming down, what do you have to fill the pipeline? And yet we are projecting that we want to be producing 500,000 barrels/ day,” he added.
Mr. Awotwi also concurred: “Right or wrong, investors had a hard time getting access to the seismic data (geological) that underpins a lot of these things. Investors had a hard time getting access to that information, and maybe the lessons learnt is that government and the Energy Ministry need to be more accessible in terms of providing that data, and hopefully they will do so next time”.
Asked whether the inability to access relevant data on time affected Tullow’s chances in Ghana’s just-ended first oil-blocks bidding round, the astute energy expert said: “It might have been so. We certainly, as Tullow, made our position known to government that it was difficult to share data. We wanted to share data with investors and we had real difficulties. That was unfortunate; there was no need for that. One has to hope that we can learn from this”.