Interview: Kevin Okyere
In what ways will the latest discoveries in the Deep Water West Cape Three Points block impact the country’s upstream market?
KEVIN OKYERE: The most recent discoveries in the Deep Water Tano Cape Three Points block are significant and show that Ghanaians and Africans can successfully operate deepwater assets, as our company was the first on the continent that drilled in deep water and found hydrocarbons. Indeed, we made a number of discoveries in the block before the Afina well was drilled in November 2019 and revealed large amounts of hydrocarbons. Taken together, the find totalled 1.2bn barrels of oil, and additional oil and close to 1trn standard cu feet of natural gas remains in the field. These volumes will play a significant role in Ghana’s energy security going forward.
What is more, as they were found in an area that many considered to have little or no potential, it also indicates that Ghana has much more to offer. These untapped resources will drive further investment and have a positive impact on the economies of local communities. Aside from the sheer volume of hydrocarbons that will come on-stream, the fact that we as a local company have been able to put together a team successfully – without any health, safety or environmental issues – opens up deepwater activities to Ghanaians, Africans and other smaller operators that feel constrained by limitations of scale. Deep water is traditionally reserved for large international oil companies (IOCs), but this find has made it clear that smaller players can successfully put resources together to make investments in energy security.
How would you assess the capability of local companies in the upstream segment?
OKYERE: Springfield Group used local companies that may not have had experience but did have the capacity to perform during the Afina drilling campaign. Local service companies that had been registered with the Petroleum Commission for freight forwarding, but had never been able to prove themselves, were able to take advantage of this opportunity to gain experience. While there is a long way to go, there are more companies that are taking the right steps towards building capacity and, importantly, there are also more companies that are willing to take the risk of tapping local talent for their projects.
The government is trying to do more to ensure that local companies are involved and that IOCs in Ghana are increasingly aware that they can gain if they have more locals working for them. Indeed, the local capacity development that has occurred has been done by IOCs, as they have the experience, and IOCs in Ghana all have a 10- or 15-year plan to build local capacity. When it comes to capabilities in exploration and production – particularly in deep water – local companies may not be able to undertake these costly endeavours without the right incentives. To that end, we hope that the government will continue to create an attractive environment for local companies operating in and entering the sector.
What role will gas play in the energy mix?
OKYERE: Natural gas will play a significant role in Ghana’s energy mix, as it is necessary to fuel the fertiliser plants and factories that are at the centre of efforts to boost industrialisation and agro-processing. This growth needs to be powered in the most efficient and cleanest way and that is where natural gas comes in. Furthermore, as Ghana’s capacity continues to grow, we will soon be in the position to export electricity to countries with power shortages, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) will make this all the more achievable. If operators and the government are able to come together and agree on a strategy, we expect to see investments in onshore gas-receiving facilities as well as those for LNG and gas processing, the latter would be expected to supply power-generating firms.