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Govt ignored ACEP’s warning on ENI/Vitol/Springfield unitisation – Ben Boakye

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The Executive Director of the Africa Center for Energy Policy (ACEP), Ben Boakye, has disclosed that the government disregarded warnings from his organisation regarding the unitisation of the ENI Ghana, Vitol, and Springfield.

In a letter dated July 2021, ACEP cautioned President Akufo-Addo against pursuing unitisation without seeking independent advice, but the government failed to heed this warning, leading to a costly legal suit.

During an interview on The Point of View on Channel One TV, the Executive Director of ACEP, disclosed that his letter to the President in July 2021 went unheeded, with his warnings about the unitisation of the oil fields falling on deaf ears.

He expressed dismay that his cautionary advice was entirely disregarded, leading Ghana into a costly legal dispute.

Boakye also recounted how some industry experts ridiculed the government’s unitisation directives, labelling them as “laughable” and suggesting a lack of understanding of the sector’s complexities.

“We didn’t receive any response from the President…When we saw and heard the action from the ministry, the AG and the rest of it, we thought that there was a need for some interventions above those organs or agencies.

“We had to write to the President, and we wrote to the President at least asking him to take a second look at the opinion of the Ministry of Energy and perhaps seek third-party advice if necessary.

“From where we sat and the technical people that we have spoken to including many Ghanaian engineers who have worked with EXIM Mobil, they worked with BP, and all of them thought this was laughable and an embarrassing situation for Ghana to go through.

“So, we thought that we could draw the attention of the President to it so that we don’t get into a situation that we’re in now and avert a possible suit by the government.

“In between the periods also, we had seen the claimants making overtures to the state on the assumption that the people handling the matter didn’t understand the technical details of what they were dealing with. They had made overtures to the President and everybody, and they were still not making headways.

“So, we thought that we could write to the President at least also highlight that, even if you don’t believe what we’re saying, and what everybody else is saying but your ministers and your agencies, just take a second look.

“Look for third-party advice and be able to address this matter in a way that sustains the oil industry, the way we had projected it and wanted it to go. And we also pointed out the risks involved… We thought we could write to him and get some response that would protect the interest of the state, it was just a good-faith communication to the President. We never got a response for it.”

The International Arbitration Tribunal in the Eni & Vitol versus Ghana and Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) arbitration issued its final award, bringing a positive outcome for Ghana.

The Tribunal denied the Claimants, Eni and Vitol, their monetary damages, which initially stood at $7 billion but were later reduced to $915 million plus interest by the end of the proceedings.

The Tribunal dismissed all claims against the GNPC entirely. Additionally, the Tribunal rejected the Claimants’ request to declare that Ghana breached the Petroleum Agreement by “refusing to withdraw or prevent reliance by third parties on the Unitisation Directives.”

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