Ghana, the gold rich country and the world’s second largest producer of cocoa after Ivory Coast, became a commercial oil producer, when production begins in 2010 from the giant offshore Jubilee oilfield, with high expectations that it will transform the economy. The discovery of the oil in 2007 drew foreign companies’ attention including Tullow Oil, UK Oil Company under the management of the founder and Chief Executive Officer Aidan Heavey.
British firm Tullow confirmed it has found what could be among the largest recent oil discoveries in Africa off the coast of Ghana, with the field holding a potential 550 million barrels. “Ghana could prove to be a key player in an effort to step up offshore oil exploration around the Gulf of Guinea,” said the Chief Executive Officer, who was speaking exclusively to the global publishing, research and consultancy firm – Oxford Business Group (OBG) about Africa’s offshore deposits offering great potential for further exploration.
Oil is a rich commodity; United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar are few examples of oil wealthy countries, taking into consideration how oil production has created employment for thousands and how revenue is distributed to enhance the economy. Unfortunately not every oil rich country’s economy has been stable or created enough employment for the hungry.
From time to time Africa has shown weakness to handle its own affairs politically and economically, despite the haste to fight for independence. Nigeria remains the largest crude oil exporter in Africa, yet corruption and the neglect of rural infrastructure, investments in health, education and water supply have seriously affected the country with struggling economy, amid declining earnings from oil.
If an oil rich country like Nigerian is facing the deepest economic crisis in its history at the moment, what can Ghana learn from this bitter experience? Soon after the discovery of the oil it raised questions about whether Ghana can escape the temptation of corruption instead of funding development. The Jubilee Field is estimated to hold 1.5bn barrels of oil. A second offshore field was discovered in September that is believed to hold another 1.4bn barrels.
The Ghana government has vowed to carefully manage the country’s oil reserves and revenue, promising to avoid the mismanagement that has plagued nearby Nigeria, among the world’s largest producers. The same statement was made decades ago when oil production commenced in the Africa’s most populous country. Today Nigeria severe ailing economy is far from healing, resulting to high cost of living. Even though many Ghanaians are excited over the oil production, time will tell if the oil discovery will benefit the people or the proceeds will end up at the Swiss banks.
Ghana’s Jubilee oil field, photo credit: TheChronicle.com.gh.