President of Ghana and Deputy Commissioner of Canada visit Aberdeen to promote overseas Scots oil and gas exploration opportunities

Ghana President John Dramani Mahama
Ghana President John Dramani Mahama


Ahead of the President of Ghana’s visit to Aberdeen this Friday, Victor Emmanuel Smith – the Ghanaian High Commissioner to the UK & Republic of Ireland – offers an overview of the potential economic bonds between Scotland and this quiet African success story – something especially true for the oil and gas sector.

Ghana is one of the trailblazers in Africa’s rising success story. Indeed, the country symbolizes how rapidly sub-Saharan Africa is changing – based on democratic governance, strong multi-party political system and partnership-based economic development.

Good governance and on-going structural reforms has helped transform Ghana’s economy – making it one of the fastest-growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa.

A core reason for this is the shift from being dominated by agriculture alone to focus on new industries. Of these, perhaps the most exciting is the oil and gas industry, which is why President John Dramani Mahama will visit Aberdeen on Friday (18 March) to open the Scottish-Ghana Business Forum at a local conference centre.

For those in this most Scottish of industries that wish to profit from one of the world’s newer oil and gas economies – helping us develop and expand – this is a strong opportunity.

Indeed, many discussions at the forum will inevitably focus on oil and gas. And quite right too – Ghana is emerging as a significant producer with substantial reserves. The first of these are already being tapped, though many still remain to be exploited – something we shall discuss at the forthcoming forum in Aberdeen.

Licences for offshore oil exploration and production first went on sale in 2004, and in 2007, the Irish company Tullow Oil together with the American company Kosmos Energy made the first discovery of oil in commercial quantities in western Ghana, and started production in 2010.

This “Jubilee field“ is located in the Gulf of Guinea, about 60 km off the Ghanaian coast, and is estimated to contain recoverable reserves of at least 1.2 billion barrels of oil reserve. Last year, the field performed strongly with a stable gross production rate which averaged 102,600 bopd. The same site is also estimated to contain an additional 140 million/1.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which will be utilised to generate power for domestic consumption, and for export to Ghana’s neighbours.[1] 

Bringing the Jubilee oil field on-stream is just the beginning. Ghanaian resources stretch right across the country’s shoreline from Cape Three in the west to Keta in the east.

Not far from the Jubilee field lie the “TEN” fields (Tweneboa, Enyenra and Ntomme), in the deepwater Tano block. The TEN Project is Tullow’s second major operated deepwater development in Ghana, which will produce up to 80,000 barrels of oil per day. The TEN Project continues to make excellent progress, is over 85% complete, and remains within budget and on schedule for first oil between July and August 2016.

To date, all the key milestones of the project have been met, including the arrival of the vessel known as ‘FPSO Prof. John Evans Atta Mills’, named after the late Ghanaian President who oversaw First Oil from Ghana’s Jubilee Field in 2010.

Meanwhile, on the refining side, Ghana’s state-owned oil refinery Tema has undergone two major phases of modernisation and has a capacity around 45,000 barrels per day. There is capacity for more refineries, with plans in place at Takoradi and Accra – the latter planned by South Africa’s New Alpha Refinery Ghana Ltd. together with the Ghanaian government.[2] 

Given this, it’s easy to understand our president’s visit to Scotland. Your country’s expertise in offshore extraction and state-of-the-art refining is unmatched. Whether it is oil and gas exploration and extraction; or whether it’s storage, refining and processing is well acknowledged.

That said, Ghana’s future is not a single bet on hydrocarbons. We remain a world class producer of cocoa and very strong in mining, most notably of gold, but also of diamonds, bauxite, manganese, iron ore and other minerals. Mining still makes up over half of Ghana’s GDP, with minerals accounting for about 37% of its exports.[3] Of course, Scottish confectionary is world famous – and mining is the industry that made Scotland the industrial bulwark of the British Empire. So we hope, here too, the forum can develop some synergies.

Indeed, Ghana and Scotland have many things in common: a shared history, a common language and legal systems and a well-educated, ambitious and determined workforce. 

Certainly, the Scottish-Ghana Business Forum in Aberdeen will afford an excellent opportunity for us to meet representatives from the Scottish government, business community and technology sector and give them an idea of what Ghana has to offer.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Alan Kessel, Canada's Deputy High Commissioner to UK
Alan Kessel, Canada’s Deputy High Commissioner to UK

Alan Kessel, Canada’s Deputy High Commissioner to the UK, was in Aberdeen recently, also promoting international opportunities in Canadian oil and gas markets, as well as tidal energy.

He said: “In addition to a shared history, Canada and Scotland also share similar opportunities and experience in major energy sectors. We also have a similar legislative and regulatory framework.

“We are looking for complementary opportunities and partnerships in innovation in the supply chain and we are very much open for business.”

Speaking on reciprocal opportunities between Atlantic Canada and the UK North Sea oil and gas field, Kessel said: “Across the gamut of oil and gas exploration issues in both Canada and Scotland,  there appears to be plenty of crossover – Scottish-based firms working in Atlantic Canada in the sector and some Canadian firms offering technology that has piqued the interest of those in the industry on this side of the Atlantic.

“There are also reciprocal opportunities in renewable energy too. More than 75% of power generation in Canada is non-greenhouse gas emitting with additional renewable energy potential in in wind, solar, biomass, geo-thermal and marine energy sectors.

“In our eastern provinces on the Atlantic Canada seaboard, our offshore marine energy industries are a staging ground for building research and development capacity and ocean-technology expertise.”

The premiers (equivalent to Scotland’s First Minister) of the four Canadian Atlantic seaboard provinces – Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island – are also schedule to make a visit to Scotland this summer to further promote transatlantic trade between Scotland-UK and Canada.

Canada has a major shale gas sector and the commissioner said that operators are ‘keeping the shale situations in England and Scotland on their radar’


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