Shell Sets Sights On Ghana’s Oil Reserves

AFRICANGLOBE – Ever since Ghana discovered commercial quantities of oil in June 2007 and began commercial production December 15, 2010, many oil companies have expressed interest in the country’s reserves of ‘black gold’.

But the question many Ghanaians are asking is will the country be able to manage this lucrative resource without falling victim to further corruption and environmental disaster.

Tullow, Kosmos Energy, Anadarko, Afren, Eni, LUKoil are just some of the oil operators exploring Ghana’s oil reserves but the numbers could change in no time since oil giant, Shell, has also expressed an interest in acquiring a licence to explore the country’s oil.

The managing director of Shell Ghana Limited, Omar Benson said that Shell is continuously looking for opportunities in countries throughout Africa and the world as well.

Benson said: “Shell currently does not have an upstream presence in Ghana. We have met GNPC and officials from the Ministry of Energy to understand in general the upstream developments, and the process for bidding for exploration licenses in Ghana should we be interested in bidding in the future.”

Benson’s comments follow a recent media report in which the global head of Shell trading, Mike Muller, was quoted as saying: “We have a growing appetite for Ghana and we are seeking the opportunity to participate in the country’s upstream activities.” Mr Muller continued, “We are working to acquire a licence for exploration…we hope we get the opportunity.”

Critical Consideration

According to Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, the managing editor of Ghanabusinessnews.com, it is important for Ghana to tread carefully before entering into business with Shell, particularly given the company’s reputation for oil spills in the Niger Delta.

He believes serious consideration must go into the process of issuing a licence to Shell. “I have just put across the facts that are already known about Shell. That company has operated in the Niger Delta in Nigeria for decades and has left a trail of pollution in the land, air and water… Ghana has just begun oil production, and it is in the interest of the country to take into consideration the track record of a company like Shell, if the company was seeking a license to explore oil in the country.”

The Ghanaian editor continued: “Ghana hasn’t got a handle on the oil sector yet and it would be wise for the country to be careful not to hand out licenses to companies with the reputation of Shell.

Indeed, as a recent United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has shown, Shell is responsible for oil pollution in the Niger Delta that will take billions of dollars to clean up.”

Emmanuel K. Dogbevi believes that if any license is given to Shell, the decision makers should take into consideration the possible impact of the company’s operations on the country as a whole not only on its fledgling oil sector.

Operations In Ghana

Shell Ghana Limited was incorporated into the Royal/Dutch Shell Group in 1963. The company operates primarily from its head office in Accra, with the main packed lubricants depot in Tema, a bitumen plant, warehouse and sales office in Takoradi and a packed lubricants depot and sales office in Kumasi.

Shell is also a major supplier of hydrocarbon products to Ghana’s mining industry. The Shell Mining office in Tarkwa operates a number of full vendor-managed inventory depots on six mining sites which supply fuels, lubricants and associated services to consumers.