Eni has called for more clarification on Ghana’s order for unitisation of the Sankofa field with Springfield Exploration and Production’s Afina field.
In response to Eni, Springield said it accepted the directive from Ghanaian Ministry of Energy and that unitisation was “beneficial to all parties”. Springfield announced on November 12 that it was the first Ghanaian energy company to produce oil in the country.
The Italian company, and its partner on the Ghanaian block Vitol, said they were not opposed to the possibility of unitisation. However, for such a step to be taken it would want more subsurface data in order to demonstrate the fields were straddling the licence line, in dynamic communication and that unitisation was warranted for optimum recovery.
Eni has not received the data it desires to meet these conditions and justify a co-ordinated development.
Springfield has not tested or appraised the Afina well, the Italian company said. This would be needed to establish whether the discovery was commercial and whether unitisation could go ahead.
A Ghana National Petroleum Corp. (GNPC) study on the Sankofa-Afina communication does not demonstrate this, Eni said. Nor does it definitively prove the discovered resources can be produced, it continued.
Eni and Vitol have said they are “acting in full compliance with the Ghanaian law and remain open to exploring any potential unitisation that would optimise hydrocarbon recovery from the Sankofa field based on reliable data from both contract areas”.
GNPC carried out the study “professionally and fairly”, Springfield said. The Ghanaian NOC holds all the data it needs to come to the conclusion that Sankofa East and Afina “are the same field. Consequently, [Springfield] will accept the GNPC findings.”
The companies look forward to collaboration on the various issues raised. The aim to “reach a consensual outcome reflecting applicable law, relevant project agreements and industry standards”.
The Italian company is the operator of the Offshore Cape Three Points (OCTP). Springfield holds the West Cape Three Points Block 2 (WCTP2).
The Ghanaian Ministry of Energy asked the two companies to begin talks in April this year. A subsequent letter from the ministry, in October, ordered the fields unitised. The correspondence complained of a “flagrant disregard” around co-operation commitments from the companies.
Energy Voice has seen some of the GNPC study. The NOC said WCTP2 held 642 million barrels. It also found that OCTP has 535mn barrels. It awarded holders of the WCTP2 licence 54.545% of the unitised field. The OCTP holders should have 45.455%, the government study said.
“Pressure on Eni and Vitol to unitise the Sankofa field with Springfield’s Afina discovery in the absence of independent validation of the communication of the two hydrocarbon columns points to the politicisation of Ghana’s energy ministry and GNPC,” said Gondwana Risk’s director Nick Branson.
“Springfield’s founder Kevin Okyere is a rumoured to be an important financier of the ruling NPP, which is focused on securing President [Nana] Akufo-Addo’s re-election next month. The episode suggests that technical considerations are being subordinated to political goals ahead of the vote, undermining the credibility of energy sector regulators, and denting Ghana’s hopes of arresting declining oil output by securing new foreign investment.”
Updated on November 16 at 10:55 am with comment from Gondwana’s Branson.