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Ghana hands out pair of prizes in offshore round

Eni and First E&P awarded acreage in long-awaited exercise with hopes of finalising deals by end of year

Ghana has awarded deep-water blocks to Italy's Eni and Nigerian independent First E&P under its debut offshore licensing round, a long-awaited exercise designed to spur upstream activity.

Eni has been invited to negotiate a petroleum agreement for block WB 03, where it aims to hold a 70% operating stake with 30% reserved for Vitol.

Subject to approval by the authorities, Eni and Vitol will likely bring on board Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) for the usual state carry and sign up a local equity partner in the final phase of contract authorisation.

First E&P — in partnership with Elandel Energy Ghana — emerged as the winner of WB 02, located north of WB 03, and east of Eni's Offshore Cape Three Points (OCTP) block which hosts the Sankofa-Gye Nyame oil and gas field.

Tullow Oil failed to qualify for the next licensing stage, having previously expressed an interest in WB 03, leaving the field clear for Eni.

Scant interest was registered for WB-04, the only other block offered under competitive tender.

Blocks WB 05 and WB 06 were earlier earmarked for direct negotiations.

However, supermajors ExxonMobil and BP walked away from talks due to a lack of technical information although other companies may remain in play.

Shallow-water block WB 01 has been reserved for GNPC which is likely to seek a strategic partner to help the parastatal build operating capability.

Ghana aims to conclude the licensing round award process by 31 August, according to Petroleum Commission acting chief executive Egbert Faibille Jr, who was speaking at the Africa Oil & Gas Council event in Paris last week.

Separately, he said ExxonMobil’s petroleum agreement for the Deepwater Cape Three Points block has been ratified — with exploration work due to start in the coming months — while the AGM consortium’s petroleum agreement for the South Deepwater Tano block was also approved with preparations for seismic acquisition and two exploration wells under way.

He said oil companies now also have an opportunity to farm in to five blocks — Medea Development’s East Cape Three Points, Heritage E&P’s Offshore Southwest Tano, Sahara Energy Field’s Shallow Water Cape Three Points, UB Resources’ Offshore Cape Three Points South and East Keta, operated by GNPC Operating Services Company (Gosco) in partnership with Lloyds Register.

Last year, Eco-Atlantic walked away from the Deepwater Cape Three Points West block, leaving Nigerian partner A-Z Petroleum as operator and likely to seek a new partner. Amni International’s Central Tano block lies at the heart of several Tano basin fields and the Nigerian independent will drill its debut well in December even without a partner, general manager Richard Goldenberg told Upstream.

Upstream was also told that Springfield E&P will drill in West Cape Three Points 2 block later this year and could drill a follow-up well if the initial probe is successful.

On Aker Energy’s Greater Pecan project, Faibille said the Petroleum Commission had requested that the original development plan submitted in March had to be updated and was set to be refiled imminently, adding that it was “simply a matter of providing more detail across all aspects of the submission”.

Faibille said Ghana produces some 200,000 barrels per day of oil and 315 million cubic feet per day of gas.

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