Foreign oil companies accused of using subsidiaries to circumvent Ghanaian laws
It is suspected that many more international oil firms are hiding behind local subsidiaries to circumvent the country’s local content law.
Miura Petroleum Limited, a subsidiary of a canadian oil firm, Gondwana Oil Corporation, is currently being investigated by the Economic and Organised Crime Office for masterminding the forgery of the Energy Minister’s signature to lay claim to a piece of oil rich area at the Cape Three Point in the Western Region.
The company claims it had been given the license to exclusively negotiate the oil block.
They used the forged letter as a basis to sell off 70 per cent stake, worth an estimated 1.5 million dollars to its parent company in Canada.
The company in turn raised 40 million dollars on the Canadian Stock Exchange with the letter.
But the Africa Centre for Energy Policy says many more local oil firms pursuing rights over oil blocks are simply fronting for foreign companies.
Though he would not give names for now, Programmes Director of the Center Benjamin Boakye alleged that many companies who have won contracts to drill oil in Ghana are using the license to trade overseas to the detriment of the nation.
In his view, the issue at stake is bigger than the ministry, and therefore called for a robust approach from the presidency to send strong signal to people and preserve the integrity of Ghana’s oil industry.
Meanwhile, a member of Mines and Energy Committee in Parliament, William Owereko Aidoo says attempts by the Energy Ministry to explain the Miura saga has made it rather murky.
He is more worried about the international image of Ghana and the impact on genuine investors in the oil industry.
It is incumbent on President Mahama to investigate the matter thoroughly to rebuild confidence in the oil industry, he reiterated.
He assured that the Mines and Energy Committee will sit on the matter when Parliament resumes, take a decision and advise the Speaker on the appropriate action to take because this is “extremely serious”.
Meanwhile, Energy Minister Emmanuel Buah has denied any culpability in the forged signature scandal.
The Ministry in a press release described as false claims by Gondwana Oil Corporation that they are in talks with the Ministry to resolve issues surrounding the forged signature.
Below is the full statement
RE: GONDWANA IN DISCUSSIONS WITH THE MINISTRY
The Ministry of Energy and Petroleum’s attention has once again been drawn to a false publication, this time on the company website of Gondwana Oil Corporation ( www.sedar.com http://www.sedar.com ) dated April 29, 2014. The company in the publication claims inter alia that “following constructive and cooperative discussions with the Ministry earlier this week, the Ministry has removed” from its website the press release issued refuting the claim by its subsidiary, Miura Petroleum Ltd, that Gondwana had been invited by the Ministry to negotiate exclusively for the award of the Offshore Cape Three Point South (OCTPS) block. The publication further states that “Gondwana continues to work cooperatively with Miura and the Ministry with respect to Miura’s application, and anticipates further confirmations from the Ministry on a going forward basis regarding the overall status of such application”.
The Ministry wishes to state clearly and categorically the following:
That the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum has not held any discussion with Gondwana or any other person or entity in which it was agreed that the press statement issued on April 10, 2014 by the Ministry should be removed from the Ministry’s website. The absence of the said press statement from the website was because files, including that statement, were removed during a routine maintenance work on the site. The Statement has since been reposted on the Ministry’s website.
The Ministry has had no dealings with Miura Petroleum Limited from the day it officially referred to the Economic and Organized Crime Unit an alleged forgery of the signature of the Minister for Energy and Petroleum, Hon Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah by Miura Petroleum Limited for investigations.
The Ministry still stands by its earlier statement that Miura Petroleum Limited has never been invited for any negotiation over any block in Ghana’s Sedimentary Basins.
The Ministry has decided to officially write to the Canadian High Commission stating our objection to the continuous misbehavior of Gondwana Oil Corporation with regards to this matter.
The Ministry wishes to state that it will continue to cooperate with the law enforcement agencies to establish the facts of this case.
EDWARD ABAMBIRE BAWA
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