Ghana's Oil Industry Needs Outside Investment: Report

by Jack Jordan, Managing Editor & Martyn Lasek, Managing Director, Ship & Bunker
Monday March 27, 2023

While Ghana remains well positioned to take advantage of a strong West African bunker market, recent reports suggest the country's oil industry may need to attract more outside investment for growth to emerge in the next few years.

West Africa as a whole saw bunker demand of about 2.6 million mt last year, according to data from Ship & Bunker, down only slightly from 2021's level. Increased tanker tonne-mile demand in the wake of the Ukraine war disrupting global oil tradeflows should lead to sales rising this year.

But Ghana's own oil industry may need to see more investment from abroad before it itself can be a driver of more bunker demand for the country.

Ghana produces about 150,000 b/d of crude oil, a figure which has declined in recent years, and negotiations with foreign oil companies to develop new offshore blocks have stalled.

"What is the point in going out to look for new investors when the ones operating in your country are not happy?" an oil executive in Accra was cited as saying in a recent report in Offshore Africa Magazine.

David Ampofo, CEO of industry body the Ghana Upstream Petroleum Chamber, has also raised concerns about the health of the industry, and its attractiveness to outside investors.

"The industry is going through a trying period," Ampofo was cited as saying in an interview with Offshore Africa.

"There is huge potential but it’s not growing and that is worrying.

"Growth in both production and replacement of reserves is critical at this moment.

"We expect to see collaboration and engagement with the Ministry and regulators deepened this year so that areas inhibiting the industry’s development can be addressed collectively.

"2023 can turn out to be a good year if we are able to make progress on this front.

"Remember, if you don’t grow, you die."

As it stands, the perceived lack of investment is not currently impacting the country's local bunker market.

"2023 has got off to a great start and we are looking forward to a good year ahead," Abigail A. Harlley, Chief Executive Officer of local bunker supplier AI Energy Group, told Ship & Bunker.

"We have always seen great potential for Ghana's bunker market, with 1,500 ships passing through the Gulf of Guinea route every day and the previous piracy problems increasingly under control."

As for the state of the wider oil markets, Harlley added: "One of the pointers to growth is to prune, sanitize and make the industry very lush and fecund to attract as many investors as possible into our thriving and investor-friendly local markets. This is where Government’s role should be emphasized in incentivising exploration with more attractive fiscal terms.

"Where there is a will, there is always a way.”