GNPC sued over Aker Energy oil deal

The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and its CEO, Dr. Kofi Koduah Sarpong has been sued for handing over a 10% stake the country had in the Deepwater Tano Cape Three Points (DWT/CTP) oil block to a Norwegian Oil Company, Aker Energy.

The plaintiffs, Humphrey Nana Yaw Essaiw and Edufa Kingsley Deladem are seeking a declaration that, granting Aker Energy’s request to “take over the 10% Explorco stake sins against the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act 2016 (Act 919) particularly sections 15 and 16 thereof as same was done without the approval of the Minister of Energy.”

The duo also want the court to declare that “the conduct of the GNPC CEO in giving up the 10% stake in the DWT/CTP oil block is inimical to the interest of the State and hence constitutes causing financial loss to the State.”

They, per their writ sighted by, also want “a further declaration that the conduct of the GNPC CEO in granting the request to Aker Energy to take up the 10% stake in the DWT/CTP oil block was without due process and same is illegal having been done without approval by the Minister of Energy.”

In another development, Humphrey Nana Yaw Essaiw and Edufa Kingsley Deladem in their writ want the Managing Direct of GNPC, Dr. Kofi Koduah Sarpong, to desist from occupying such position.

They claimed that Dr. K.K. Sarpong has exceeded his mandatory retirement age and must not continue to be in that position.

“A declaration that the contract appointment executed between the GNPC CEO and GNPC is illegal. A further order directing Dr. Kofi Koduah Sarpong to cease and desist from acting as the Managing Director of GNPC forthwith,” the two who described themselves as strong advocates for social accountability and the rule of law added in their writ.

Background of Aker Energy deal

In 2015, Explorco Ghana Limited, a subsidiary company of GNPC, acquired 10% interest in the DWC/CTP oil block at a time when HESS Corporation (the then operator of the DWT/CTP oil block) was offloading part of its stake in the block.

Parliament reportedly approved a budgetary allocation of $47 million for the acquisition.

The plaintiffs in their writ stated that before GNPC could conclude the processes on the acquisition of the 10% stake, there was a change in government and with it came a change in the board and management of GNPC.

They argued that the new board and management of the GNPC was expected to conclude the acquisition of the 10% stake in the block “but failed to do so without any just reason.”

“The acquisition of the 10% stake would be beneficial to the country and sits well with principles of good public financial management and that the failure of GNPC to conclude this acquisition shall occasion financial loss to the State. It is the plaintiff’s case that when the new board and management of GNPC assumed office, Aker Energy who had acquired the majority state in the HESS operated block, requested to take over the 10% Explorco stake in the DWT/CTP block, which request was granted by GNPC acting through the GNPC MD.”

The plaintiffs insisted in their writ that the said move “sins against the Petroleum Act, 2016 (Act 919)” and asked the court to overturn such decision.

Aker Energy recently announced the discovery of oil in the Pecan South-1A well in the Deepwater Tano Cape Three Points (DWT/CTP) block offshore Ghana.

Aker Energy has a 50 percent stake for which it submitted an unsuccessful $4.4 billion plan for development to the government for approval.

IMANI raises alert

Some civil society organizations including policy think tank, IMANI Africa raised concerns with the deal earlier.

IMANI Africa claimed that the country could be shortchanged by some 30 billion dollars if the contractual agreements are not reviewed; a claim that has been denied.