PIAC advocates data investment, regulatory reforms in oil and gas

The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) has called for investments in data and regulatory reforms in the oil and gas sector to address the continued decline in oil production and the challenges in attracting new investments.

In 2023, the country produced a total of 48.2 million barrels (bbls) from its three producing fields: Jubilee (63 percent), Tweneboa-Enyenra-Ntomme (TEN) (14 percent), and Sankofa Gye-Nyame (SGN) (23 percent).Additionally, a total of 255,171.97 MMSCF of raw gas was produced from the SGN Field (50 percent), Jubilee (30 percent) and TEN Fields (20 percent).

The average price achieved by the Ghana Group for all three producing fields during the period under review was US$78.067/bbl.However, crude oil production has been on a downward trend for the fourth consecutive year in 2023. Production dropped from a high of 71.44 million barrels in 2019 to 48.25 million barrels in 2023, representing an annual average decline of 9.2 percent.

It is in light of these challenges, that PIAC in its 2023 Annual report recommended that  government and relevant regulatory bodies take appropriate steps to reverse the production decline in existing fields and ensure investments in unexploited fields. This, they believe, will revitalise the sector and attract more investors.

Energy law lecturer at the University of Professional Studies (UPSA) Law School and representative of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) on PIAC, Ms. Yorm Ama Abledu, highlighted that the unfavorable investment climate in the local oil and gas sector is a key factor deterring International Oil Companies (IOCs).

She pointed out that IOCs are increasingly favouring neighboring countries like Côte d’Ivoire, which offer de-risked basins and comprehensive new data. In contrast, Ghana’s data offerings are seen as less competitive – making them less attractive to potential investors.“Remember how attractive our Western Basin is; however, as we venture deeper we lack the necessary data for these areas,” Ms. Abledu explained. “This makes the sector insufficiently attractive for investors to commit their funds to such a risky venture.”

Speaking in an interview on the sidelines of a PIAC-media engagement in Koforidua regarding the Committee’s latest report, the lecturer urged government and regulatory authorities to conduct competitive bidding processes with a level playing field.She emphasised the necessity of establishing an enhanced legal and regulatory framework, boosting local content and capacity building, and improving the investment climate and fiscal regime to attract new investments into the oil and gas fields.

Commenting on the declining production she noted, for instance, that production on the Jubilee Field began in 2010 and remains one of the country’s most significant oil discoveries. Given that it has been in production for a while, she said, it is obvious that production could plateau.The Jubilee Field, for instance, contributed the highest revenue of US$475.2million from the production of some 30.4 million bbls at end of the 2023 fiscal year.“When you look at other fields like TEN there were some technical issues, whereas SGN is primarily a gas field,” Ms. Abledu noted.

Given the country’s resolve to utilise its carbon resources amid the global shift toward cleaner energy sources, she further advocated for government to enhance the quality of data provided IOCs to offer them greater certainty for exploration.Additionally, Ms. Abledu called for empowerment of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) to take a leading role in the industry, enabling its domestication.She also emphasised the need to improve production through adopting new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The yearly media engagements by PIAC provide a platform to discuss the Committee’s Statutory Reports, key developments in the upstream petroleum industry and its other activities.It was as part of these activities, after the  2023 PIAC Annual Report  launch, that the Committee engaged members of the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ), select Members of the Parliamentary Press Corps and the PIAC Media.