Credible information available to energyneswafrica.com suggests that the planned acquisition of stakes in the Aker Energy and AGM Petroleum Ghana oil blocks is a calculated move by some persons in the Akufo-Addo-government to enrich themselves at the expense of the West African nation.
According to information intercepted by energynewsafrica.com, should the deal go through, it would enrich persons who, our sources describe as a ‘gang of three’.
“For the record, if this deal is approved, Ghana will suffer because the government just taxes and enjoys royalties and not investment in a risky exploration. Now, the ‘gang of three’ wants to get wealth and collapse the portion Ghana enjoys without much risk,” the source explained.
Multiple sources of information obtained from persons in Government and people close to the country’s energy Ministry confirmed that the deal would not be in the interest of the nation and the citizenry, as claimed by GNPC in their memorandum but would only benefit few people in government who want to amass wealth.
Ghana’s Minister of Energy, Dr. Matthew Opoku, recently, submitted a memorandum to Parliament of Ghana on behalf of GNPC, seeking approval for a loan of $1.65 million to enable Ghana acquire stakes in two oil blocks.
In the memorandum, GNPC, through its exploration company, Explorco, wants to acquire 37 percent interest in Deep Water Tano/Cape Three Point (DWT/CTP) operated by Aker Energy Ghana Limited; and 70 percent stake in the South Dee Water Tano SDWT operated by AGM Petroleum Ghana Limited.
According to the memorandum, GNPC is proposing the establishment of a joint operating company between Aker Energy and AGM Petroleum Ghana Limited, and GNPC Explorco.
‘’An Operator Joint Venture (JV) will be formed between GNPC Explorco and Aker Energy/AGM,’’ the Parliament Memorandum said.
The joint operator company is expected to hold 40 percent stake with Aker Energy /AGM holding the remaining 60 per cent.
The Minister for Energy and the Minister for Finance are supposed to agree on a purchase price with Aker Energy/AGM.
According to the document submitted to Parliament by the Energy Minister, the Aker Energy/AGM interests in the respective blocks have been valued by number of sources, including GNPC, Aker Energy/AGM, Artic Securities, Pareto Securities and Lambert Energy Advisory.
The valuations range between US$2.0 and US$2.55 billion, with prospects for the total share of Aker and AGM in the two blocks.
GNPC and Aker Energy/AGM jointly commissioned the independent Lambert Energy Advisory valuation report and agreed to use outcome as a reference point for the negotiation price.
Based on this report, the total share of Aker and AGM in the two blocks is US$2.55 billion.
The pro rata value of the GNPC Explorco share being acquired based on Lambert Energy Advisory is $US2.0 billion.
Value for money
In a statement issued last week, Alliance of Civil Society Organisations made up of 15 CSOs working in the extractive sector, good governance and anti-corruption raised concerns regarding the value of the assets as claimed by GNPC and Aker Energy/AGM.
The CSOs took issues with claims by Aker Energy that it had invested about US$800 million so far on the blocks in a document submitted to Parliament.
While GNPC claims it has verified the expenditures, the CSOs have doubts about the figures, insisting that it “appears inflated if juxtaposed against the amount of work done by Aker and the value of its acquisition three years ago.”
Aker Energy acquired Hess’s interest in the DWT/CTP for US$100 million in 2018. Before selling its interest to Aker, Hess had appraised the field with estimated recoverable oil of 450 million barrels.
In total, Hess drilled 12 wells (seven exploratory wells and five appraisals well). With that amount of work done, the highest valuation Hess got was about US$400 million in 2016 when it farmed out 40 percent to Lukoil and Fuel Trade for the entire field.
Aker claimed it has spent about US$420 million on five well drilled on the two blocks.
“In another document presented to the country’s Economic Management Team (EMT), the US$420 million relates only to the three wells on DWT/CTP. Given that the DWT/CTP cost is shared among the partners of the block the total expenditure claims for the wells could be in the region of US$600 or US$750 million compared with US$400 million by Hess for 12 wells, depending on which of the documents used. This is very high regardless of which of the information is used.
“The remaining US$280 million must be accounted for properly. GNPC claims that money was used for “certain activities essential for establishing resource in the blocks”. This is overly ambiguous and cannot be accepted as a cost with this kind of description which questions the distinction between that activity and data acquisition and studies done as part of exploration and appraisal,’’ the CSOs said.
According to energynewsafrica.com sources, Aker Energy is cash trapped and that explains their inability to develop their oil block.
Energynewsafrica.com’s sources indicated that Aker Energy was going to relinquish their stakes and walk away from the shores of Ghana just as ExxonMobil did.
One of the sources in Government remarked that “Aker Energy lied to the NPP government. We bend the rules to make it easier for them, but they have not been able to develop their oil block.
“What have they done with their own block?” the source quizzed.
The source concluded that “Aker does not have money.”
Another source in Government, who is angered by the GNPC’s to acquire stakes in Aker Energy and AGM blocks, wondered why the government now wants to buy stake in SDWT block when it reduced GNPC Explorco’s 24 percent from to 18 percent.
“First, why are we now paying for something we gave away for free? We also cannot be haphazard in the way we do things. We have to decide firmly on what type of National Oil Company we must have; either an asset manager or an exploration company. It is when that decision has been made that these investments decisions can make sense,’’ energynewsafrica.com’s source stated.
“Besides, Aker has proven they cannot develop the block so after a while, they will have to relinquish. So, why are we a poor nation bailing them out? Why is Aker not going to the capital markets to raise money as all others do?
“Those who got the free shares are now selling them back to government,” the source said.