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PyToday (25/04/2019), policy think tank, IMANI Africa, assembled journalists at the Accra International Press Center over government’s cold feet in the wake of barefaced attempt by Norwegian Oil Company, Aker Energy, to arrogate to itself rights over a recent huge oil find estimated to value in excess of USD30billion.
As part of IMANI Senior Vice President, Kofi Bentil’s bewilderment over Government’s nonchalance even as the clock ticks to Friday, the deadline after which Government cannot challenge claims of Aker, he announced that IMANI has heard speculations that Fueltrade, a local partner of Aker, is connected to Dr. K.K. Sarpong, Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC).
WhatsUp News can report on authority that Fueltrade is indeed owned by Dr. K.K. Sarpong, who is part of the conspiracy of silence over Aker’s dubious claims. Dr. K.K. Sarpong and his Fueltrade therefore stand to benefit if Ghana sleeps on its right till Friday, when the country’s entitlement to the $30billion oil find would be ceded to Aker.
Dr. K.K. Sarpong’s involvement in Fueltrade is so deep that it has had many crossover repercussions, including one that touches on the defunct Royal Bank. We have it on authority, that when KK Sarpong was Board Chairman for that collapsed bank, he peddled his own influence to secure loans for the benefit of Fueltrade.
Fueltrade has a subsidiary called Bulk Ship Oil Company limited, which curiously, owns an oil block in the same Cape 3 Point area, where Aker’s gargantuan oil find happened. Sources have told Whatsup News that Bulk Ship Oil, the subsidiary of K.K. Sarpong’s Fueltrade, bought that oil block with a $25million loan from the defunct Royal Bank.
The loan had been secured through Dr. K.K. Sarpong, who had used his influence as Board Chairman of the Royal Bank at the time to whip the bank into approving the loan for Bulk Oil.
Impeccable sources have said the loan arrangement has since run into trouble, leading Fueltrade to approach Royal Bank on behalf of Bulk ship to request a restructuring of the loan, before the bank would fold up. Fuel trade is said to have since guaranteed monthly servicing of the interest on the loan for 5 years and has promised to pay the principal after 5 years.
Therefore, when Mr. Kofi Bentil of IMANI was hinting on a connection between the GNPC boss, and Fueltrade, which is a local partner of Aker Energy, he was not erring on the side of caution; he was thumping on the sacrosanct fact.
Now the connection of Fueltrade to Dr. K.K. Sarpong throws the GNPC’s silence on Aker Energy’s attempts to arrogate rights to the biggest oil find in Africa to itself, into a whole new light. It is increasingly becoming apparent that Ghana’s main custodian of its oilfields, GNPC, has become tongue-tied because its Chief Executive, Dr. KK Sarpong, stands to reap handsomely through Fueltrade, if Aker Energy gets away with the black gold.
Ghana has, up till Friday, to stake a claim and force Aker to back-off or lose rights to the find.
Aker’s posturing over the oil find is seen by concerned experts as wholly dubious. The Norwegian company acquired 51% stake in an earlier well in the Cape 3 Point which had been founded by another Norwegian company, Hess Oil.
Hess Oil operated under a Petroleum Agreement with the government of Ghana which was signed in 2006 and under which Government granted the company seven years within which to undertake oil exploration in the area. This Exploration Period ended in 2013.
However, in January this year, six clear years after its contract had expired, Aker Energy announced the discovery of oil in the Pecan South-1A well in the Deepwater Tano Cape Three Points (DWT/CTP) block offshore Ghana.
Estimated to be a 450 million to 550 million barrels endowment, the find is touted as the biggest in the whole of Africa and valued to be in excess of $30billion. The Norwegian company has since been posturing to the effect that it has rights to the find, in spite of the fact that it has no contract over this new find. Ghana’s passage of Act 191 and related legislations which replaced the law under which Aker got its contract, specifically makes it illegitimate for Aker to have even explored to make the find without informing Government in the first place.
“Hess’ concession was based on the old law which many people believed shortchanged Ghana because it gave us too little and that is why we have passed new laws such as Act 191 and the related legislation so we can get a bit more from our oil.”
“Somehow, Aker believes that it can get more favourable terms even under the new law and they, are seeking recognition of the terms they inherited which Hess was working under,” Mr. Kofi Bentil lamented.