Giant of Dublin stock exchange boosted by new Ghana oil supply
Published 16/12/2010 | 05:00
TULLOW, the oil company founded by former Aer Lingus accountant Adrian Heavey, began pumping oil from massive new wells in Ghana yesterday; boosting the fortunes of the largest firm listed on the Dublin stock exchange and one of Africa's rising-star economies.
President John Atta Mills, wearing safety gear and blue overalls, opened the valves in a televised ceremony at the 330-metre-long floating platform, some 60km off the West African country's Atlantic coast.
Initial production of around 120,000 barrels per day will rank Ghana as sub-Saharan Africa's seventh largest producer, with output set to double within three years.
The start of commercial production came just three years after discovery of oil at the field, named Jubilee to mark the timing of the find 50 years after independence in 1957.
"After a long wait, the day has come," Mr Mills said. "But it means that we are assuming a very serious responsibility. And especially for those who are in leadership positions, we must ensure that it becomes a blessing not a curse," he warned.
The state-owned Ghana National Petroleum Corp-oration, US-producer Anadarko Petroleum and privately held US energy firm Kosmos are all involved alongside Tullow.
Tullow was left red-faced last week after a cable released by Wikileaks suggested the company had complained to the US ambassador in Uganda about Italian company ENI's business practices.
Tullow works with ENI on some projects in Africa.
The company admitted an executive had met with the ambassador but denied the detail as it appeared in the cable.
On Tuesday, Uganda evicted more than 400 farmers from land in the Lake Albert rift basin, where oil has been found, after the government accused them of illegal occupation.
Police ejected the herders over the last two days from areas around Buliisa district, a police spokesman said.
"The supreme court ruled on October 24 that these farmers were occupying this land illegally and following that ruling we had to move in and evict them and that operation has been done," the spokesman added.
Uganda struck commercial deposits of oil in 2006 in the Lake Albert rift basin, along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Tullow estimates that this part of Uganda contains more than two billion barrels in reserves. The Buliisa district is home to exploration blocks owned by Tullow.
The company's spokesman, Jimmy Kiberu, said the land the cattle farmers were occupying includes areas where exploration and appraisal activity is taking place.
In an report published last October, Global Witness accused Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni and his relatives of tightening their control of the country's budding oil sector.