Oil company working in Ghana's waters. Ghana is counting on increased oil revenues to boost its economic growth and drive development in other sectors to create wealth for its people / Photo: Tullow Oil

International court favours Ghana in maritime border dispute with C么te d鈥業voire

Ghana wins three-year case as the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea rules that it did not violate the rights of its neighbour in oil exploration, report Emma Farge and Kwasi Kpodo.

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, sitting in Hamburg, Germany, on Saturday drew an ocean boundary favouring Ghana in a dispute with its neighbour C么te d鈥業voire, opening the way for development drilling to resume on Ghana鈥檚 multi-billion dollar TEN deepwater oil and gas project.

The decade-old row between the two West African neighbours has slowed the development of oil fields and at times soured relations between the two oil producers, who also together grow 60 per cent of the world鈥檚 cocoa.

鈥淭he Special Chamber unanimously finds that Ghana did not violate the sovereign rights of C么te d鈥業voire,鈥 said Judge Boualem Bouguetaia, President of the Special Chamber.

An official at the court said that the boundary delineated by the tribunal did not correspond with the claim of either party. However, the angle appeared to be very close to the line claimed by Ghana and politicians welcomed the news.

鈥淭he judgment is very consistent with Ghana鈥檚 position all along and so we are thankful to God,鈥 Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia said on local television on Saturday, describing the dispute as 鈥渇riendly and brotherly鈥.

Ivorian officials were not immediately available to comment.

鈥…We can now restart work on the additional drilling planned as part of the TEN fields鈥 plan of development and take the fields toward their full potential,鈥 said Paul McDade, chief executive of London-listed oil company Tullow Oil, the lead operator of the project.

Officials of the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea in a group photo with members of Ghana鈥檚 delegations after the verdict announcement yesterday in the German city of Hamburg / Photo: ITLOS

Tullow said in a statement it now expected to resume drilling around the end of the year, which would allow production to start to increase toward the full capacity of the floating production, storage and offloading vessel of 80,000 barrels per day (bpd) from around 50,000 bpd currently.

Kosmos Energy, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation and PetroSA also have stakes in the TEN project.

The ruling, while expected since Ghana鈥檚 claim was based on the customary equidistant line, comes as a huge relief for Ghana which is counting on oil revenues to boost its economic growth back to the levels hit before a 2014 fiscal crisis.

C么te d鈥業voire had been seeking compensation for oil field developments in the area but the tribunal rejected its claim.

Analysts had predicted that a loss for Ghana would have resulted in complicated contract renegotiations and loss of significant revenue that could worsen the economy, dogged by high public debt. Tullow has said it has already invested around $4 billion in the TEN project.

Ghana, also Africa鈥檚 second largest gold producer, discovered oil in 2007, prompting its western neighbour which had been pumping oil for decades to revive a claim to some of its territorial waters. Several rounds of talks failed to result in a deal on the border which, like many other African sea borders, had until now never officially been set.

漏 Reuters

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