Wednesday, February 3, 2010
US oil giant, Anadarko International Oil Company, has blown the whistle on the shape of how oil exploration licenses were awarded under the NPP government, saying they and their partners, Hess, were asked to part with 5% of their stake to, ‘an unknown Ghanaian party,’ as a condition for being awarded the South Deepwater Tano block for oil exploration.
“We were informed that if we made such a strong bid, it would overcome a previous demand by then Chairman of GNPC, Stephen Abankwa, that we carry an unknown Ghanaian party for five percent (5%) something neither Hess nor Anadarko can do, given that we are both subject to the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other related US legislation,” Anadarko revealed.
Anadarko, who had put up an individual bid, alongside Hess and others, stated in a protest letter to the Minister of Energy, Dr. Joe Oteng-Adjei that the above demand, was made of them after they were encouraged by GNPC to combine their individual bids for a joint one.
The revelation was contained in a confidential letter dated February 24, 2009 and signed by Ian J. Cooling, Vice President, Business Development of Anadarko.
According to Anadarko, together with Hess, they subsequently submitted a combined bid, “but were shortly thereafter informed by Chairman Abankwa that if we did not accept the third-party carry of five percent (5%) another company, the Norwegian company Aker, had already agreed to do so and would be awarded the block.”
Anadarko said it was later informed by the then Minister of Energy, under the John Kufuor administration that the block had been awarded to another company, without telling them about how the bids fared.
“There was no transparency whatsoever in the entire bid process,” Anadarko charged, adding that “We never received a formal written notification that our bid had failed, and it was to our dismay that we learned later that Aker, had indeed been awarded this extremely complex, deepwater block.”
It was from the press and other sources, according to Anadarko, that they “learned that the Aker bid also included a third party for five percent (5%).”
ELECTIONS The US oil giant asserted that “We were upset and seriously considered at that time alerting the highest levels of the US Government and asking their intervention, but the Ghanaian Presidential election was upon us and we decided that this issue might perturb the democratic process, which we strongly support.”
The license for the block was awarded to Aker under a petroleum Agreement signed on October 24, 2008 about six weeks to the presidential and parliamentary elections. On the same day, a Service Agreement was signed between Aker ASA and CHEMU Power Ltd., a company owned by an offshore company called CHEMU Capital BVI.
Martinus Brandal, Senior Partner and President, signed on behalf of Aker ASA, while Nik Amarteifio, Executive Chairman of CHEMU, signed on his company’s behalf.
Anadarko called on the new minister to review the bid procedure and processes for the award of the block, which they believed would turn the tide in their favor.
“Now that the election is over, we are confident that you, Mr. Minister, will wish to review the bid procedures and processes of the award of Ultra Deepwater Tano Block. After such review, you will undoubtedly notice that the combined bid of Hess and Anadarko, two world-class deepwater operators with such a strong combined bid, would have been in Ghana’s best interest,” Anadarko asserted.
The company that had the five percent carried interest was Chemu Power, owned by Nik Amarteifio and Dr. Charles Mensa, both close pals of former President John Agyekum Kufuor.
DR. CHARLES MENSA
Dr. Charles Mensa was appointed by the President to serve as Chief Executive Officer of Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO) during his tenure as President. Charles Mensa sparked controversy some years back when as Chairman of the University of Cape Coast Council, he conferred an Honorary Law Doctorate on then President Agyekum Kufuor, at a time when the University had no Law Faculty.
Dr. Mensa is a founder of the Institute of Economic Affairs, a governance think- tank.
NIK AMARTEIFIO Nik Amarteifio is a bosom friend of former President Kufuor, he is also the man who brought Telenor to replace Telekom Malaysia. Telenor, according to a recent government investigation criminally run down Ghana Telecom.
Kufour’s government paid Telenor a whopping $600,000 for the business plan they used to secure a Ghana Telecom management contract in response to an international advertisement inviting strategic investors to partner Ghana Telecom. Eventually, Telecom Malaysia sued the government in an international arbitration and walked away with a handsome compensation.
Nik was appointed by former President Kufuor to serve on the board of Bank of Ghana, and was rumoured to be the President’s ear on activities at the Central Bank of Ghana.
Nik’s offshore investments, which stretch from Channel Islands in the UK to his equity stock option in Canada are under investigation by The Enquirer.
STEPHEN SEKYERE-ABANKWA Mr. Stephen Sekyere-Abankwa, who was appointed by President Kufuor to serve as GNPC Board Chairman, remains a very close pal of the former President Kufuor. He is rumoured to have served as a quiet financial advisor to the former President.
Mr. Abankwa, is currently the Managing Director of Prudential Bank Ltd in Ghana.
During the Ghana@50 celebrations, the Office the President guaranteed about $10 million for him and his partners to secure a loan facility from the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to construct residential accommodation. By press time yesterday, Mr. Abankwa and his group had still not been able to pay up the loan they took from workers pension contribution. Interest on the loan has reached about 4 billion Cedis.
MOSES BOATENG When Energy Minister, Dr. Joe Oteng-Adjei, referred the Anadarko letter to the then Managing Director of GNPC, Mr. Moses O. Boateng for his response, he gave the minister what could at best be described as half-truths in a letter dated March 9, 2009.
Mr. Boateng stated, for instance, that “In terms of financial and technical capabilities the two companies were found to be almost at par and GNPC would be indifferent as to which of them was eventually awarded the block.”
This assertion is not supported by the facts as a cursory glance at the track record of Aker ASA, Anadarko, Hess and Chemu, would leave no one in doubt that the two US companies, Anadarko and Hess are streets ahead of their Norwegian and Ghanaian counterparts in their technical and financial capabilities as well as all other departments of the oil industry.
Again, in a table that purported to compare the terms of the Hess-Anadarko and Aker ASA applications for the Tano Deepwater, Mr. Boateng was not forthright with the minister. He actually, matched the raw bid of Hess-Anadarko against the negotiated terms under the Aker ASA – Chemu Power agreement.
This obviously was to misrepresent to the new minister that the bid of the latter was better.
However, a review of the Petroleum Agreement signed with Aker ASA, revealed that contrary to the requirements of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Law, PNDC Law 84, the company neither registered nor incorporated a company under the laws of Ghana.
That Agreement was ratified by Parliament on November 5, 2008. But Aker ASA, got Aker Ghana Limited incorporated on October 29, 2008 with certificate of incorporation number, CA-51,646, to commence business on October 30, 2008.
Aker ASA sought to assign its interest to Aker Ghana Limited, as a means of regularizing the agreement. However, by a letter dated December 30, 2009 the Energy Minister, declined the request, since the original agreement was invalid.
According to him, “The assignment you have requested is legally impossible in view of the underlying failure of compliance with the law.”
The minister, by a copy of that letter advised GNPC to reimburse Aker ASA with costs incurred in acquiring data, since such data acquired belonged to GNPC. He notified Aker ASA that it was going to reactivate negotiations which had commenced previously with the Anadarko/Hess application.
The relevant clauses under Section 23(15) of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Law PNDC Law 84, states that a contractor (foreign company):
“which is not an incorporated company in Ghana under the Companies Code, 1963 (Act 179) shall (a) register an incorporated company in Ghana under the provisions of the Companies Code, 1963 (Act 179) to be authorized to carry out solely petroleum operations in respect of which a petroleum agreement or petroleum sub-contract has been entered into under this Law and such signatory shall be a signatory to any petroleum agreement;”
“(b) maintain an office or establishment in Ghana to carry out petroleum operations and shall have in charge of such office or establishment a representative with full authority to act and to enter into binding commitments on behalf of the contractor or sub-contractor, as the case may be; and, continues with subsection (c) that:
“In respect of such petroleum operations, open and maintain an account with a bank in Ghana.”
Companies, such as Kosmos Energy, Tullow Oil, Anadarko, Sabre Oil and Gas Holdings have all registered their companies under Ghana’s Companies Code, to facilitate their compliance with the law before entering into petroleum agreements for their blocks.
THE NORWEIGIAN CONNECTION
One shocking revelation from the GNPC boss to the Minister was that in awarding the South Deep Water Tano block to Aker ASA, they were influenced by factors such as “The Norwegian Government’s Support to Ghana in restructuring the oil and gas industry together with their support for training of Ghanaian staff” The GNPC boss further noted that “the keen interest of the Norwegian Ambassador in GNPC affairs became a plus in favor of Aker”
According to Mr. Boateng, one other consideration for awarding the field to Aker ASA was the fact that “.there were relatively too many American companies in the basin namely, Kosmos, Hess, Anadarko and Vanco,” but “There were only two European companies - Tullow and Vitol, the decision was to spread and therefore favored Aker.”
The above has generated a geo-political controversy as to whether the Norwegian government twisted the arms of the previous government in awarding the field to Aker.
Observers say the mention of the interest of the Norwegian Ambassador is akin to the controversial role played by the British Ambassador to Ghana in the sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone, a British telecom giant.
In southern Sudan, the emergency food situation has gone from bad to worse – much worse.
The U.N. World Food Program says the number of people in southern Sudan needing food aid has quadrupled – up from about one million in 2009 to over four million this year.
WFP Southern Sudan Coordinator Leo Van Der Veldon, who’s in the regional capital of Juba, says there are two main factors in the deteriorating situation.
“One is the drought. The drought is not only here in South Sudan, but also it’s affected Kenya, parts of Uganda and Ethiopia. And the second factor is inter-tribal conflicts. Both had an effect on the high food prices,” he says.
He says the conflicts have gotten worse because fighters are now armed with automatic instead of traditional weapons. The violence results in the displacement of many people, affecting how and where the WFP distributes aid.
Here comes the rain
The rainy season is approaching southern Sudan, which could complicate matters.
Van der Veldon says parts of the region “become one big swamp in the rainy season and the roads are then completely blocked.”
As a result, the WFP is prepositioning food in regional warehouses, so the aid will not have to be transported great distances to get to those in need.
He says, despite current conditions, the WFP is not expected to continue the aid to such large numbers throughout the year.
“No, hopefully not. What we foresee now is that they really need the assistance just before the harvest, two months before the harvest for the general(ly) food insecure. The severe(ly) food insecure will get another four or five months of assistance as well.”
The harvest season in southern Sudan is due in October and November.
Finding contradicts a U.N. investigation that says Captain Camara bears 'individual criminal responsibility' for the massacre
A panel of inquiry in Guinea says exiled military leader Moussa Dadis Camara was not responsible for the killing of protesters at a September opposition rally.
The finding, released Tuesday, contradicts a United Nations investigation that said Captain Camara bore "individual criminal responsibility" for the massacre, in which more than 150 people were killed.
The Guinean panel blamed the killings on Lieutenant "Toumba" Diakite and members of the country's presidential guard.
Witnesses have placed Diakite at the Conakry soccer stadium where soldiers opened fire on pro-democracy demonstrators September 28. The soldiers also allegedly raped more than 100 women that day.
Diakite has been in hiding since he shot Captain Camara December 3. He told French radio that he attacked Camara because the military leader wanted to assign him full blame for the massacre.
Before he was shot, Camara denied responsibility for the incident, putting the blame on rogue soldiers in Guinea's army.
Camara is now in Burkina Faso, recovering from his gunshot wounds. Last month, the captain agreed not to return home as part of a deal to establish a transitional government in Guinea.
The country has been under military rule since December 2008, when Camara and a group of officers seized power after the death of President Lansana Conte.
The political deal calls for the new government to hold elections in June. Guinea's acting military leader, General Sekouba Kontate, has called on troops to support the new administration.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP.