5 March 2010

West Africa: Ivory Coast 'Battles' Ghana over Oil

Even before Ghana goes partying over its latest discovery of oil in deep waters offshore in the Western Region, La Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana's Western neighbour, is said to be laying claims to portions of the oil field.

Alhaji Collins Dauda, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, explained in a telephone interview with The Chronicle yesterday, that Ghana's boundary with Ivory Coast had not been clearly demarcated, but both countries have since shared and respected a ' median line' which has served as a boundary between the two countries. But, this long shared and respected boundary changed when Ivory Coast, in its recent correspondence with the government of Ghana, indicated that it no longer respected the existing "median line" dividing the two countries, and subsequently served the United Nations with a similar correspondence.

Collins Dauda says the development could have serious international and diplomatic repercussions, if not handled with tact.The Minister was of the opinion that the claim by Ivory Coast was baseless, as the claim by Ivory Coast was not in line with certain acceptable internationally standards of determining maritime boundaries.

Collins Dauda disclosed that last year, Ghana appealed to the United Nations to extend its maritime boundary by 200 nautical miles, and as a precondition, the country was directed to negotiate boundaries with its neighbours, he disclosed.

He said the government was in the process of fast-tracking the establishment of a National Boundary Commission, to negotiate the country's maritime boundaries with Ivory Coast, adding that the bill for the institution of the Commission had since been sent to Parliament, under a certificate of urgency.

"A National Boundaries Commission will be put in place that would engage our neighbours in La Cote d'Ivoire, with a view of negotiating our maritime boundary between ourselves and our brothers in Ivory Coast," the Minister indicated in an earlier interview on Joy FM.

Issue, and could have far reaching consequences, if the media especially, does not exercise circumspection in its reportage. AO Lukoil, Russia's second-biggest oil producer, and closely-held Vanco Energy Company, made yet another significant find of oil and gas deposits in deep waters in the Western Region.

The partners, together with the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, drilled a well at the Dzata field off the Cape Three Points deep-water block in the Gulf of Guinea. The Dzata 1 well, drilled to a depth of about 4,500 meters (14,500 feet), tapped a 94-meter-thick hydrocarbon column. The new discovery puts Ghana in the limelight, as it is set to become one of Africa's newest oil exporters later this year, when production begins at the Jubilee Field, which has potential resources of as many as 1.8 billion barrels, according to Tullow Oil Plc, its operator.

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