41 firms apply for exploration
The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) says it has been inundated with applications from foreign companies expressing interest to invest in oil exploration between January 2007 and June 2008.
A total of 41 firms have so far applied, with 20 companies doing so last year, while 21 applied for blocks to prospect for oil as of June 2008. Four companies applied for blocks in the Saltpond, Tano Basin and Accra-Keta basins in 2006.
The Managing Director of the GNPC, Mr Moses Oduro Boateng, told the Daily Graphic that the GNPC, in the past, received a maximum of four applications a year but the trend changed immediately Kosmos Energy discovered oil at Cape Three Points in June 2007.
The application from Oranto, which is one of the 41 companies which applied for blocks at Saltpond, is currently before Parliament awaiting approval.
Mr Boateng explained that although as many as 45 companies had put in applications to explore for oil, majority of them did not have the financial and technical capabilities which were the major criteria to be met before approval could be given.
According to him, six other companies had so far been assessed and found to have both financial and technical capabilities.
The companies are Yep-Dawant, Mren-Celtique, Sahara Energy Field Limited, Tap Oil, South Atlantic Natural Resources and Addax Petrolewn.
Mr Boateng explained that each of those companies was expected to invest not less than $100 million in its operations.
He described the rate at which companies had expressed interest in exploration activities as encouraging, noting, however, that "our worry is that the major companies have not shown interest. Why it is so, we do not know".
Mr Boateng said he believed the major oil companies were either adopting a "wait-and-see attitude or strategising to buyout companies which make discoveries".
Which ever way the trend might be, he observed the big companies in the oil sector to invest in the country's exploration activities.
"We do not want to make the mistake of allotting blocks to companies which want to come in for speculation purposes. That is why we are treading cautiously," he explained.
Kosmos Energy Ghana Limited and its partners will need about $5 billion to fully develop the fields to pave the way for the production of oil.
As a result of the cost involved in drilling and the time frame needed for the acquisition of equipment, Kosmos energy and its partners will develop the discovered oil fields in phases.
The company's partners are Tullow Oil, UK; Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Texas; Sabre Oil. UK; E. O. Group, Ghana and the GNPC.
Testing the oil discovered was done over the weekend to enable the experts to confirm the grade of the discovery in the deep sea off the coast of Cape Three Points in the Western Region.