African oil frontiers: Building a strong platform

There are massive opportunities in emerging African oil territories. As the industry establishes itself, new energy businesses are laying the foundation for sustainable, long-term relationships that unlock prosperity for their host nations, writes Pecan Energies Ghana CEO Kadijah Amoah.

With more African countries emerging as significant energy frontiers, and new discoveries in places like Namibia heralding the establishment of greenfields industries that could really boost regional GDP, there are likely to be many oil businesses entering the continent in years to come.

It is interesting, then, to understand what energy companies are likely to face as they enter these new territories. For Pecan Energies, we have embarked on just such a journey, as we work to develop our interest in the offshore deep waters of Ghana.

Kadijah Amoah
Kadijah Amoah

Pecan Energies is a uniquely African business, owned by Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), a pan-African multilateral development financial institution with 40 member countries – including Ghana.

Our African ownership roots instill a profound commitment to the continent’s economic development, an obligation to invest in creating jobs, building local capacity, retaining value on the continent and driving economic growth.

Pecan Energies is currently in the pre-development phase of our investment, and making good progress towards Final Investment Decision (FID) on our 50 per cent participating interest in the Deepwater Tano Cape Three Points (DWT/CTP) block, 115km offshore Ghana.

The Ghana oil industry

The Ghana oil sector is itself in the early stages of its development, with the first commercial oil coming on stream in 2010, after the discovery of the Jubilee offshore field in 2007. Currently, Ghana produces around 170 000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil and about 325 million standard cubic feet per day (scfd) of natural gas.

By comparison, the Namibian discovery is projected to reach around 700 000 barrels per day (bpd) of peak production within the next decade

The Ghana government has announced its intention to boost oil and gas production by continuing to sell exploration rights, in order to generate revenue to fund its energy transition and avoid economic turbulence.

The Ghana oil sector may provide some clues as to how emerging frontier territories will develop. For Pecan Energies, while we advance through the early developmental phases of our project, we have looked to lay the foundation for strong local partnerships and ongoing opportunities to develop the domestic sector.

This is not an overnight process, and we have already been active in Ghana for many years, since our first discovery breakthroughs.

Local content planning

In that time, we have been able to craft a robust local-content plan aimed at developing the local workforce in a progressive and realistic manner.

Recently, we conducted an internal survey to establish the competency and skill sets of Ghanaian industry professionals and companies, and adjusted our local content plans and targets accordingly, aligning them with industry growth trends.

With this in mind, we aim to build the capacity of young Ghanaians in the crucial areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), which we believe are essential for the future of the Ghanaian economy and the energy sector.

Our Pecan Inspire Scholarship Program, focuses on prioritising investments in these educational subjects. We have so far awarded full scholarships to 141 students to pursue various courses at tertiary institutions across the country. More than a 1000 students have also received full scholarships to study at the senior high school level, all before we begin commercial production of oil.

Empowering the workforce

We have also been very deliberate with our human resource development investments. For instance, during our exploration-and-appraisal drilling campaign in 2019, we had a workforce comprising 70% Ghanaians on the deepwater rig at one point. This included all levels of expertise – from trainees and technicians to engineers and supervisors, exemplifying Pecan Energies’ commitment to empowering the local workforce.

Our local content plan is geared towards the development of human capital. Currently, Pecan Energies Ghana boasts a 100% Ghanaian workforce.

We are committed to ensuring that when we reach financial close on the next stage of our project, we will look to strike the balance between economic growth through oil production and the need to mitigate our climate impact. We will achieve this balance through several focused interventions:

Balancing growth with sustainability

Firstly, we will integrate sustainable practices into every phase of our operations. This includes, as far as possible, employing energy-efficient technologies and processes in our Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) unit, aiming to minimise emissions and reduce the environmental impact of our operations.

Secondly, we are committed to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by conducting the best available technology assessments and energy efficiency design studies in the initial stages of project development. By optimising equipment and operational procedures, Pecan Energies aims to keep emissions as low as reasonably practicable.

Thirdly, recognising the importance of social sustainability, Pecan Energies will continue to actively engage with local communities wherever we operate. This means not only ensuring that local populations benefit from the economic opportunities we aim to unlock, but also involving them in decision-making processes related to environmental conservation.

Fourthly, we are fully compliant with Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) requirements, and we conduct thorough assessments before initiating any new projects. This helps to identify any potential environmental risks and also allows the company to implement mitigation strategies proactively.

Finally, we plan to be a thought leader by leveraging pan-African and international engagement platforms – such as the forthcoming AOW event in Cape Town – to advocate for responsible exploration and production that truly benefits the community and the continent as well as increased investment in renewable energy by African countries. We believe this can be achieved by reinvesting the revenues derived from oil production into renewable energy initiatives.

We are convinced that such a strategy will not only help mitigate the climate impact of oil operations but also contribute to the broader energy mix in host countries.

We are playing the long game. New oil-and-gas relationships are being built in new frontier territories across the continent. For them to survive and prosper, they must involve all role-players and they must be designed – from the outset – to benefit the people of Africa.

  • The 30th edition of AOW: Investing in African Energy takes place from October 7-10, 2024, at the CTICC2, Cape Town. AOW is the meeting place for the global community of African energy stakeholders committed to enabling a prosperous energy outlook for Africa. AOW is the only event providing a complete and inclusive view of the African energy opportunities – from investment to access.

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