Momentum in Ghana’s hydrocarbons industry is increasing, with a new offshore field entering production, and the prospect of more oil and gas leases to be offered for exploration.
In early July energy firm Eni Ghana Exploration and Production announced it has commenced gas production at the Sankofa fields, part of the $7.9bn Offshore Cape Three Points (OCTP) Integrated Oil and Gas Project. It is estimated the field will yield up to 5.1m cu metres per day for 15 years or more.
The broader deepwater OCTP, located some 60 km off Ghana’s west coast, is composed of six fields – five under the Sankofa project and one Gye Nyame field. Its operators, Eni and partners Vitol Ghana Upstream and national oil firm Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), will develop the fields’ reserves, estimated to be around 40bn cu metres of non-associated gas and 500m barrels of oil, and build related infrastructure, including transfer pipelines and on- and offshore-processing-and-storage capacity.
The project is being implemented in phases, with oil production expected to reach around 80,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2019. The take from the Sankofa fields alone is enough to meet half of domestic power generation requirements, improving energy security and reducing import costs.
New blocks to be offered up for exploration
As Eni raises production, other energy majors are gearing up to enter the upstream market.
In January the government granted ExxonMobil the rights to conduct exploratory work in the deepwater OCTP field. Under the agreement, ExxonMobil will hold an 80% stake in the project and GNPC 15%, with a third, yet-to-be-determined local partner to hold the balance. Initial survey work in the block, which is between 2400 and 4000 metres deep, is expected to begin late this year.
More offshore blocks are on track to be auctioned for exploration later this year and into 2019, as Ghana conducts its first-ever open exploration licensing round.
In mid-May the Ministry of Energy (MoE) announced it would call for bids for the right to explore up to nine new blocks off the west coast, with the first six to be offered in the fourth quarter. The blocks were chosen for their proximity to existing infrastructure, including pipelines that could carry any take from new production sites, along with facilities for processing, storage and trans-shipment.
According to Mohamed Amin Adam, deputy minister of energy, there has already been strong interest in the new offshore blocks, with enquiries from Shell and BP as well as some independent operators.
The developments signal growing momentum in Ghana’s energy industry, which since late 2010 has increased commercial crude production from blocks off the west coast to around 180,000 barrels per day (bpd).
New plans aim to develop petrochemicals industry
In tandem with the scaling up of production, the government is looking to bolster refining capacity. The MoE announced plans in January to build a new 150,000-bpd oil refinery over the next four years.
The move comes in response to a decline in capacity at the country’s only refinery at Tema following a fire, which reduced capacity by one-third to around 45,000 bpd, just half of current consumption.
In June Mahamudu Bawumia, Ghana’s vice-president, announced a new three-phase strategy designed to develop the Western Region into a centre for petroleum products in West Africa by 2030.
While details have yet to be finalised, proposals for the project include constructing four oil refineries with a combined capacity of 600,000 bpd, in addition to related infrastructure such as new storage, distribution and processing facilities with the capacity to hold and redistribute 30m tonnes of petroleum products per year, around 50% of annual regional consumption. Designated ship-to-ship and bunker zones are also planned near the Tema and Takoradi ports to regulate and safeguard liquid cargo.
In addition to meeting domestic needs for refined products, the project seeks to capture the part of the regional market currently supplied by imports from outside the region – estimated at 350,0000 bpd, according to the MoE.