Ghana expects 8bn barrels of crude

Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Mike Hammah, has said that Ghana expected to get an additional eight billion barrels of crude oil reserves if the application for an extended continental shelf was granted

Ghana was among 50 countries globally, including Nigeria, Côte d'Ivoire and Kenya, to meet the May 13, 2009 deadline for UN member countries to seek expansion of their territorial waters.

The government had prepared and submitted to the United Nations' Commission on the Limit of Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) in New York. Addressing the media, the minister said the prospects for granting Ghana's request were high. He added that the West African country's request involved the extension of its continental shelf to about 15,000 sq km beyond 200 nautical miles, where preliminary studies had shown the potential for at least eight billion barrels of petroleum reserves.

The Jubilee oil field where commercial oil production began exactly a year ago is estimated to contain three billion barrels of oil reserves. On the work of the boundary commission that had been holding talks with neighbouring Côte d'Ivoire and other neighbouring West African nations on trans-boundary economic issues, the minister said their work had enhanced the country's smooth development of the oil and gas sector.

"With regard to the security of our oil resources, I wish to assure you that our oil field is safe and out of any controversy," said Hammah.

In October, Ivorian oil and gas authorities appealed to petroleum companies working in Ghana's oil fields to stop drilling into its waters, following an altercation over offshore territorial claims by the two states.

"The state of Ivory Coast, which has continually denounced these operations, again appeals for this [drilling] to end because the resources being exploited are our exclusive property", the authority said, demonstrating with maps that some oil blocks being prospected for Ghana were 5,526 sq km within their territory.

But later, in an interview, Hammah told Xinhua that there had been ongoing negotiations with La Cote d'Ivoire within the framework of international law and the spirit of due diligence.

Chief Technical Officer for lands at the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources Ellis Paul Atiglah also explained to Xinhua that the claim of eight billion barrels of oil reserves had actually been confirmed by the United Nations International Seabed Authority (UNISA). He said indications were that Ghana could be called earlier than expected by the UNCLCS to defend its application for the extension.

A national co-coordinator of the Ghana National Continental Shelf Delineation Project, Lawrence Apaalse, had said in 2009 that eight million US dollars had been budgeted for the preparation of the document. Apaalse, also the lead geologist at the Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC), said but for issues of overlapping boundaries that might arise from submissions made by neighboring countries, the success of Ghana's submission was not in doubt.

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