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Ghana’s Overbearing and Incompetent Attorney General Strikes Again!

When the matter was referred to the Attorney General, he saw clearly that this was an issue that Ghanaian civil society organisations like IMANI and ACEP have been working on for years. We had written loads about it. We have made speeches and offered suggestions. Yet what did he do?

Everyone in Ghana knows that the country struck oil in 2007.

However, the search for oil in Ghana began in 1896 when occurrences were detected in the Western Region in colonial times.

It took Ghana over a century to hit oil because finding black gold is highly risky and crazily expensive.

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After trying to use the country’s own resources to do this for a while, a strategic decision was taken to change the approach by letting investors come in and bear the larger part of the risk. Once de-risked, Ghana can then afford to play a bigger role in discovery and production. Investors had to be given attractive terms and assured of the security of their investment for this to work.

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That is how in 2007, when Ghana first struck oil, it had Irish and American investors at the forefront. Later, Italian and Swiss Investors called Eni and Vitol also discovered the second major field.

A Ghanaian investor also made a find. But because of the proximity of his find to the Eni–Vitol field, a dispute arose as to whether the finds were connected and should therefore be developed together.

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It is in moments of such disputes in matters of such extreme national importance, that level-headed government officials show their strategic brilliance and competence.

When the matter was referred to the Attorney General, he saw clearly that this was an issue that Ghanaian civil society organisations like IMANI and ACEP have been working on for years. We had written loads about it. We have made speeches and offered suggestions. Yet what did he do? The Attorney General arrogantly ignored everything. He refused to engage local stakeholders in the issue. He didn’t even bother to guide the government to attempt an amicable settlement of the disputing investors.

Government Claims Win in ENI-Vitol Dispute, But It’s Not Exactly So

In his usual overbearing and brusque manner he rushed headlong into international arbitration, hired the most expensive lawyers he could find, splashed millions of dollars on them, and attempted to push the government’s totally reckless and indefensible position! What was this position?

The government wanted Eni and Vitol, after over 7 billion dollars spent, some of it borrowed from the World Bank, to relinquish 55% of the oilfield. Obviously, no investor will ever agree to something this ridiculous. The Energy Minister, who is not a lawyer can be forgiven for his exuberance. But what is the excuse of the Attorney General?

Once again, he demonstrated a deep disinterest in fairness and justice. He thought he could use his “win at all cost” takashi model in international arbitration, too. And play chaskele with Ghana’s millions. Today, Ghana lost!

What a shame!

We need to see some contrition from the Attorney General. Even more importantly, we need to see him mend his ways. Otherwise, one day he will plunge this country into the abyss with his dangerous disinterest in justice and fairness and preening obsession with false “victories”.

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