Economist demands transparency in Exxon Mobil Deal

Even though Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko, has famously claimed that Ghana’s recent contract with ExxonMobil for oil exploration in the Deep Water Cape Three Point (DWCTP) oilfields is the best ever, Ghanaians in general have taken his words with a pinch of salt.

Not only is Boakye Agyarko a politician, the man has constantly chipped away at his own credibility through all sorts of strange semantics, while his boastful promise to drastically reduce petroleum prices, while in opposition, remains a pipedream after one year at the helm.

But for the more expert Prof. John Gatsi, respected lawyer, economist and don of economics at the University Of Cape Coast, the suspicion of the claim by the scandal prone Energy Minister, who was alleged to have bribed MPs to sail through vetting, is based on specific issues.

Dr. Gatsi has lamented that the ExxonMobil contract was sealed like a deal between criminal bosses, and its opacity makes it the umpteenth oil contract that Ghana has signed, shielded from the public.

The Business and Financial Times (B&FT) newspaper reports Dr. Gatsi as lamenting that the opacity of the ExxonMobil deal with Ghana is due to the fact that a Petroleum Register that Ghana’s laws require to be established, has for some reason, not been established.

As its name implies, the Petroleum Register would be a legal archive that would have all oil contracts signed by Ghana recorded down.

According to the report, Dr. Gatsi pointed out that there is no excuse for the non-existence of the register two whole years after the Petroleum Act of 2016 prescribed its establishment.

The Act, 919, states that: “The Commission shall establish and maintain a register of petroleum agreements, licenses, permits, and authorizations as prescribed.”

Since 2007 when Ghana discovered oil in commercial quantities, a number of petroleum agreements have been signed which cannot easily be recalled by the average Ghanaian.

Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko, who praised the opaque ExxonMobil deal as the best ever for Ghana, actually referenced the fact that in the past all the oil deals that Ghana signed were bad.

According to him, the ‘masterstroke’ with ExxonMobil had been helped by bad experiences that Ghana has since learnt from.

But, this deal that Boakye Agyarko praises so highly is only known by himself and members of his government, having been signed like a hush-hush deal between criminal bosses.

Thanks to a precious overture from the Energy Minister, Ghanaians only know that ExxonMobil, as lead operator, holds an 80-percent interest in the DWCTP, while state-run Ghana National Petroleum Corporation holds 15 percent.

Exxon also retains the right to hand down the remaining 5% of the stake to a local company as required by Ghanaian law and is busily looking for that local company.

On the strength of well-known dodgy culture in the petroleum industry, it is not farfetched to forecast that even though Ghana’s laws require that the 5% remaining stake goes to a Ghanaian company, ExxonMobil can easily put together a shrouded local subsidiary and use it to front for the remaining 5% of the stake.

Such proxy companies tend to operate as secret subsidiaries of juggernauts like ExxonMobil until they are busted.

But Ghana’s Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko, claims that the deal is the best that Ghana has ever signed.

This is the same Boakye Agyarko who claimed during the NPP’s days in opposition that he would reduce fuel prices within weeks if he was Minister, but has since superintended over escalating fuel and utility prices since he became Energy Minister in January 2017.




Source: Baidoo

The Republic News Online

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