Rat Race – The New State of Ghana’s Petroleum Fiscal Environment and Implications for Industry Competitiveness

Since the discovery of the Jubilee field in Ghana in 2007, more than thirty (30) petroleum agreements (PAs) have been ratified by Parliament. According to the Petroleum Commission, twenty-four (24) discoveries have been made offshore the Western Basin, out of which two have been declared commercially viable while others are at the appraisal stage1 . Ghana’s fastdeveloping oil and gas sector presents a broader development financing opportunity which, when properly harnessed, could transform the country’s economy and improve the lives of its people.

As a new comer to the oil and gas business, Ghana leverages on the capital, experience and technology of international oil companies (IOCs) to explore and develop the resource. Fiscal terms of PAs thus govern the relationship between the government and private companies, and determines how benefits and risks will be shared. Striking the balance between the twin goals of investment attraction and revenue maximization, which are not achievable without tradeoffs, is a major challenge to the government. There are evidences to suggest that petroleum fiscal agreements in Ghana have improved over time after the Jubilee discovery. For example royalty has increased from 5% to between 10% and 12.5% for most new PAs. However, it is even more important to ascertain the extent to which improved fiscal terms serve the interests of both the state and the investor such that Ghana is not disadvantaged.