Ghana’s First Oil Licensing Round Monitoring Report
Bid and licensing rounds are now a global norm for resource-rich countries in selecting investors for upstream petroleum activities. Ghana’s first oil bid and licensing round, launched in October 2018, was conducted in accordance with applicable laws and international standard practices.
Six blocks were made available for the licensing round; three blocks to be awarded through an open and competitive bidding process, two through direct negotiations and one to be solely operated by Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), the national oil company.
The significant compliance with the legal provisions of the licensing round provide opportunities for sustained investor confidence in future licensing rounds.
Quality of data and fiscal terms count in sustaining investor interest beyond the initial expression of interest. In the case of Ghana, out of 60 applications received from 16 companies, only three companies progressed to submit bids after prequalification.
While the licensing process was ongoing (competitive tendering and direct negotiation), the Ministry opened an escape window for companies to negotiate outside the licensing round process. This has the effect of undermining the competitiveness of the process.
Although the selection process met the timelines set by the Ministry, the actual negotiations of petroleum agreements are yet to be concluded 5 months after the deadline. This portends corruption risks and could negatively impact future investor interest.
Civil society monitoring, to some extent, played a watchdog role over the process.