Will Ghana's decade-long plan to drill additional oil wells be successful?

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Oil and gas exploration in Ghana has come a long way since the West Africa Oil and Fuel Company dug the country’s first documented discovery well, WAOFCO-2, in the Takanita concession in 1896. Located onshore in the Tano River Basin in western Ghana, the well was approximately 35 metres deep and produced 5 barrels per day (bpd).

By comparison, Jubilee Field, which lies 60 km out to sea from the mouth of the Tano River, produced 73,042 bpd, or 19.94m barrels, in January-September 2021. Since the field was discovered in 2007, dozens of others have followed. The fields contributing to production currently are Tweneboa-Eyenra-Ntomme (TEN), and Sankofa and Gye Nyame.

Exploration Continues

Tullow Oil is the operator of both the Jubilee and TEN fields, and has a 35.48% and 47.18% stake in each, respectively. The company is currently working on its Ghana Value Maximisation Plan through which it and its partners aim to invest $4bn between 2020 and 2030. Under the strategy, a multi-year, multi-well drilling campaign commenced in April 2021, and by 2030 a total of 50 wells are expected to be in production. As of November 2021 three of the four wells Tullow planned to drill that year alone were completed. These are two production wells and one water-injection well at Jubilee, and a gas-injection well at TEN.

Tullow expects to see Jubilee alone average 80, 000-84,000 bpd in 2022, despite a two-week shutdown planned in the second quarter. The shutdown is for maintenance work on the floating production, storage and offloading facility Kwame Nkrumah, which was previously operated by Japan’s MODEC.

This work under the Ghana Value Maximisation Plan aims to increase output at the field – to a targeted 120,000 bpd – through a stable flow. In this regard, Tullow and its partners Kosmos and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) are also looking at the eastern parts of Jubilee. These areas have not been as closely explored and may contain in excess of 170m barrels of oil and condensate, according to estimates by Tullow.

The operator aims to similarly boost output at TEN, with the Nt06-GI gas-injection well coming onstream in late 2021 in the Ntomme part of the field. Further exploration in the greater Ntomme and Tweneboa regions of TEN has been planned for 2022. The programme includes drilling two development wells in the Ntomme riser base area and another in the Enyenra area, along with investment in the infrastructure necessary to enable production to start in 2023.

Heading East

With Ghana’s oil and gas sector historically focusing on the western onshore and offshore parts of the Tano River Basin, there had been significantly less interest in the much larger, eastern Volta River Basin. However, this has changed in recent times with GNPC’s inland Voltaian Basin Project, which ran for five years to 2019. During this period the GNPC pioneered exploration activities spanning an area of approximately 103,000 sq km. The company drilled two wells and conducted 2D seismic data analysis over 1700 sq metres, and assessments from this were encouraging. The government, however, decided to await the completion of bidding for the remaining blocks in the western offshore region before working in the east. With those bids now long complete, the government announced in its 2022 budget that preparatory studies for drilling a well in the Volta Basin would be undertaken that year.

EXPLORCO, GNPC’s exploration and production arm, may therefore see an expanded role in 2022. This development would be facilitated by the government’s intervention to re-allocate blocks that have remained undeveloped by existing holders. Indeed, in 2021 GNPC was given parliamentary approval to acquire interests in the deepwater Tano-Cape Three Points and south deepwater Tano blocks previously held by Aker Energy and AGM Petroleum, respectively.

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The Report: Ghana 2022

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