Interview: Kwesi Botchwey
What are Ghana’s gas supply priorities?
KWESI BOTCHWEY: In the short term, the highest priority is harnessing gas for power generation. Ghana has a critical power deficit, which has been a constraint on our economic development for a long time.
There are many industries that have not been brought on-stream due to this power deficit. They include an iron and steel industry, an integrated bauxite to aluminium industry and a glass factory, among others. All of these are in the vicinity of a proposed location of the gas project.
This is why we opted for an onshore gas pipeline instead of an offshore route, as originally planned. We chose a pipeline route that would allow us to supply gas as feedstock for industries along the pipeline route to the power plants in Aboadze.
How can local procurement be increased?
BOTCHWEY: We are going to have an engineering procurement construction and commissioning contract (EPCC) for the early phases of the infrastructure project. Although we do not currently have a formal local content law, we plan to maximise local participation to the fullest extent possible.
There is already a good deal of preparation, construction, excavation and other related activities. China’s Sinopec Group has been awarded the EPCC contract and has already identified a number of local contractors to help participate in the project.
In the long term, as more local companies get trained in engineering works, we anticipate that maintenance of the gas processing facilities and the provision of a wide range of services will be provided by Ghanaian companies.
What challenges face the building of initial gas infrastructure before the end of 2012?
BOTCHWEY: There is no denying that the timetable for building the first phase of gas infrastructure is a very challenging one, but we need to be sure to put the matter in the right perspective. We anticipate that we will be able to complete a substantial part of the early phase, including the completion of the offshore pipeline to the location of the onshore processing plant at Atuabo, the manufacture and installation of the processing plant itself and finally the construction of an onshore pipeline to the power plants located in Aboadze.
Although not originally planned, the early phase will also now include a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) plant, which, when commissioned, will more than alleviate the country’s frequent shortages of LPG.
Obviously, this cannot be completed before the year’s end. But it will be finished in early 2013, and, just as importantly, financing for it is already secured.
We know that the project schedule is tight, but we have been working hard. I am particularly proud of the dedicated team of young Ghanaian engineers and supporting staff who have been developing the project. We are also very lucky to have Sinopec executing the EPCC contract. The capacity of the processing plant will initially be around 150m standard cu feet. But as we move forward and prepare to enter 2013 we plan to double the processing capacity to some 300m standard cu feet.
What prospects are there for further commercially viable discoveries? In which areas do you expect future finds to be located?
BOTCHWEY: The prospects are very good. There is a lot of exploration going on in this region and there is a lot of interest from major players. The new discoveries will likely come from deepwater exploration, so you need to attract the major players that have the capacity to operate at these depths.
We are happy to note that there is a great deal of interest in further exploration off the coast of Ghana. So future prospects, apart from what we know already, appear to be very good indeed, and will likely continue to be so as developments progress apace.
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