Energy Ministry Dismissive About Lukoil’s Grave Concerns - Over Aker Energy-GNPC US$1.65 billion Transaction  

Energy Minister, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh Energy Minister, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh

The Ministry of Energy, has flippantly swept away concerns raised by the Russian energy company, Lukoil about being sidelined in the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation's (GNPC) planned US$1.65 billion acquisition of stakes in Aker Energy and AGM Petroleum Ghana.

In a letter to the Energy Minister, Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Lukoil, said it has not been aware of and engaged in discussions of its partners to sell the stake and change the operatorship, despite it being one of the main partners in the Deepwater Tano Cape Three Points (DWT/CTP) block offshore Ghana, with a 38 percent Licence Interest and a 42.22 percent Participating Interest.

Lukoil, had expressed some misgivings about the GNPC's controversial planned acquisition of stakes in Aker Energy and AGM Petroleum Ghana.

The letter to the Energy Minister, which was copied to the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, Havard Garseth , the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Aker Energy, Chris Chenebuah of Fueltrade Limited, Lukoil said it "has not been aware of and engaged in discussions of its partners to sell the stake and change the operatorship."

Lukoil, said it wanted to be involved in key decisions moving forward.

"In order to avoid any negative consequences for the DWT/CTP project, LUKOIL shall be directly involved in the discussion of such fateful issues as (i) the solo/ acquisition of the Aker Energy's share, (ii) the resignation of the Operator of the DWT/CTP project and appointment of a successor and (iii) further project financing plans, so as to ensure further sustainable development of the project in the interests of all stakeholders," the letter said.

But the Ministry of Energy in response to the concerns said, "We wish to formally acknowledge your comments regarding the proposed transaction between Aker Energy/AGM and GNPC and to reiterate our appreciation of the long-standing relationship with Lukoil."

"We can confirm that GNPC has the necessary financial backing and technical competence to acquire the stakes under discussion and to participate in the operator company, which will remain unchanged."

The Ministry allayed the oil company's fears that the project execution and schedule will be put at significant risk by the proposed transaction.

"On the contrary, at the successful completion of the transaction, GNPC Explorco will become a 40% shareholder in the operator Joint Venture Company. As such, there will be no resignation or change of operator."

The Energy Ministry, further indicated that the acquisition transaction is still at its early stages and currently under negotiations, adding that Lukoil and Fueltrade, will be engaged at the appropriate time.

"It is expected that at the appropriate time, Aker Energy Ghana Limited and GNPC will engage with Lukoil and Fueltrade in accordance with the JOA."

The company has justified the deal, saying such a partnership with the two entities is critical because of the exiting of oil majors from the country.

It said it needed to build its capacity and take up a large part of the exploration activities before Ghana's oil reserves hit a level of terminal decline.

Responding to this letter on Eyewitness News, the Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Benjamin Boakye, said Lukoil, had been disrespected.

"Under no circumstances could we have thought that Lukoil was not aware that this transaction was happening, and for Lukoil to have heard about this transaction in this media was simply incredible."

"It shows that we grossly disrespected them. We didn't see the need to even get parties on the bloc to understand the dynamics on the bloc," Mr Boakye said.

GNPC, through its GNPC Explorco, is allowed to participate in the upstream petroleum sector, and it plans to purchase a 70 percent stake in the South Deep Water Tano (SDWT) operated by AGM Petroleum Ghana Limited and a 37 percent stake in the Deep Water Tano/Cape Three Points (DWT/CTP) operated by Aker Energy Ghana Limited.

The company will form a joint operating company with the two entities and acquire the said stakes at different agreed prices.

GNPC has already secured Cabinet approval and is seeking a US$1.65 billion loan.

The company has justified the deal, saying such a partnership with the two entities is critical because of the exiting of oil majors from the country.

It said it needed to build its capacity and take up a large part of the exploration activities before Ghana's oil reserves hit a level of terminal decline.

Source: www.theheraldgh.com