The Western Region will today, be the spotlight of both the international and local media as President John Evans Atta Mills performs a simple but important ceremony of ushering the country into the league of oil producing countries.
The ceremony, has heightened expectations of most Ghanaians, some of who believe that the country is set to be out of its numerous developmental challenges, especially in the area of fuel pricing.
However, it looks as though Ghanaians will have to exercise cautious optimism since according to Mr. Edward Bawa, Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Energy, it will take some time for the impact and benefits of the find to be felt.
Speaking in an interview with the ‘Times’ in Accra yesterday, Mr. Bawa said the oil find would in no way affect fuel pricing in the country, since whatever was drilled initially would be sent onto the international market until the first quarter of 2011.
That according to him, would enable the country’s crude oil to register its presence on the international market, adding that “This will mean we will continue to import crude oil for the Tema Oil Refinery until the first quarter of 2011”
He said per the domestic supply requirements, the oil companies must work towards ensuring that the country at all times has enough crude to refine but this arrangement can be feasible only when the Kwame Nkrumah has been filled.
“Even when the country is able to supply its own crude for refinery, we may still have to import to ensure that we meet our oil demands,” he said explaining that in spite of this arrangement the country will still buy its crude from the oil companies at the prevailing International price to ensure that the country does not go into the era of subsidies.
“The only initial benefit will be that we will not incur haulage and insurance costs in the price build up.”
He said though the oil belongs to the country there is the need for its management to conform to international practices.
Mr. Bawa said though the drilling may not directly impact pricing may be felt in other areas in subsequently.
He said the President will fly from Takoradi at half past eight this morning where he will be given a guided tour of the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah and before performing the launch.
It will be the President’s first tour of the vessel since its arrival in the country in June this year.
In attendance at the ceremony will be Ex Presidents Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor who have been invited officially to be part of the ceremony at the air force base at Takoradi before the President flies onto the rig to pump out the first oil.
Salifu Abdul-Rahaman reports that Deputy Minister of Energy, Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah has led a delegation to the Jubilee fields to ascertain the state of preparedness for the official inauguration by the President today.
“We are very impressed with the state of readiness for oil production from the fields,” he said.
The delegation included the Minster of Environment, Science and Technology, Sherry Aryitey, Deputy Minister of Transport, Dzifah Attivor, Majority Leader in Parliament, Cletus Avoka and Minority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu.
Mr Buah said the Operations Supervisor of Tullow, operators of the field, Graham Guy, conducted the team round the facility adding “we are pleased with the safety and other mechanism put in place to ensure smooth operations of the field and transportation of the crude by the vessels to the market.”
The Tanker Vessel Ohdoh which was converted for the Jubilee field from the Jurongship yard in Singapore and christened FPSO Kwame Nkrumah is installed at depth of about 1,100 in the jubilee field and designed for 20 years.
The FPSO which is linked to various production wells on the jubilee field has a storage capacity of 1.6 million and can process 120,000 barrels of crude oil and 160 millimeter cubic feet of gas
“We are particularly happy to note that about 40 out of the 100 personnel working on the FPSO are Ghanaians’ he said, adding that Ghanaian custom officials were at post to monitor the metering to ensure transparency in the measurement of the volume of oil produced.
He said Mr Guy was happy that the FPSO was constructed in a record time of less than two years for production to commence.
While the Majority Leader, Mr Avoka would not like to comment on his impression in order not to “take the steam out of the executive,” his counterpart Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu told the Times “from my untrained eyes I am impressed with the state of readiness for production to commence.”
“They were test running the facility, we are happy and we hope that by and large everything will work sufficiently and according to plan,” the Minority Leader said.
He said they had been told by the operator that they hopefully to pump between 950 and one million barrels of crude oil a week, will be pumped.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu stressed the need to strengthen institutional mechanisms to ensure that integrity and transparency on the field is assured all the time by the operator.
The historic moment today followed a chequered history of oil exploration spanning many years before the precious black gold was discovered in 2007, 60 kilometers offshore between the deep Water Tano and West Cape Three Points block in Ghana.
The Jubilee Fields, being operated by Tullow with equities by Kosmos, Anardarko, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, EO Group and Sabre Oil and Gas, is estimated to have recoverable reserves of more than 600 million barrels with an upside potential of 1.8 million barrels.