Norwegian oil exploration company, Aker Energy, has announced the discovery of what appears to be the biggest oil find in the country’s history to date off the coast of western Ghana. The find has occurred in the oil rich Deepwater Tano area which has given rise to Ghana’s three oilfields already in production – the Jubilee, TEN and Sankofa Gye Nyame fields.
The news will serve as a major boost to the country’s economy at the beginning of this year.
The oil and gas operator said exploratory drilling indicated an “estimated 450-550 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe)” in the Pecan field, 166 kilometres (100 miles) off Takoradi.
Further exploration could increase total volumes to 600-1,000 mmboe, the company said in a statement.
The reserves already identified easily eclipse the finds behind the three existing oilfields. Jubilee has reserves of 370 million barrels, TEN has 240 million barrels and Sankofa has 204 million barrels. This means that the new find could conceivably have reserves that exceed the estimated reserves of the three existing fields put together.
The well was drilled at the Pecan field in the DWT/CTP (Deepwater Tano Cape Three Points) block, approximately 166 kilometres southwest of Takoradi in Ghana, to a vertical depth of 4,870 meters in 2,667 meters of water. The DWT/CTP block offshore Ghana contains seven discoveries, of which Pecan is the main discovery to date.
The announcement, which is by all standard a good news, will instructively serve as an alternative source of funding for government projects in the future.
The exploration company began operating the Pecan field last year with a 50 percent share. Its entry into Ghana resulted from its astute acquisition of Hess Ghana, which had been operating the block, for a total cash consideration of US$100 million in February last year.
Aker Energy’s partners on the DWT/CTP block include Russian energy company, LUKOIL (38 percent), the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) (10 percent) and Fueltrade (two percent).
“We are pleased to announce the well results, confirming our understanding of the area, as well as the resource base and upside potential in the DWT/CTP block. Based on these results, we will optimize the Plan of Development for the Pecan field. There is still a lot of work to be done, including the conclusion of the phasing of development, the size of first phase and detailing of the concept. Our most important priority, going forward, is to deliver a robust field development plan to the Ghanaian authorities,” says Jan Arve Haugan, Chief Executive Officer, Aker Energy.
To be sure Aker has known for several months that the exploration block has enough oil to support the development of a new oilfield, shortly following the acquisition, Aker announced its intention to submit a Plan of Development in the second half of 2018 with anticipated first oil in the fourth quarter of 2021.
However, the sheer size of the new find will push these timelines forward. It will take at least three years to get the expected oilfield up and running. But Ghana can expect immediate benefits in the form of increased interest in the country by major international oil firms, even as ExxonMobil is already setting up shop and British Petroleum has announced plans to follow suit. The new discovery significantly improves Ghana’s negotiating hand with regards to BP and any other oil major wishing to explore for oil here.
After a decade of discovery with commercial production beginning in 2010, the country is believed to still have a substantial amount of reserves, with expects predicting about seven billion barrels in reserves.