History of Oil and Gas Industry in Ghana

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Initial Exploration

Hydrocarbon exploration in Ghana began in 1896 by the West Africa Oil and Fuel Company (WAOFCO) who drilled in the area of Half-Asini. They were followed by the Société Française de Petrole, who began drilling in 1909.[1], although exploration in the country between 1896 to 1967 was intermittent.[2]


The first major field, the Saltpond field, was discovered in 1970 by a Signal Amoco well, located approximately 100 kilometres west of Accra, and began producing in 1975. Between 1978 and 1985 a total of about 3.47 million barrels of oil was produced from the field and 14 billion cubic feet of gas was flared.[3]

By the end of 1980, 31 wells had been drilled, resulting in three discoveries- the Saltpond, Cape Three Points, and North and South Tano.[2]

Major and sustained exploration activity started with the formation of Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) in 1985 and has continued until today.[2] Ghana's first petroleum law, the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) Law was passed in 1983, and in 1987 the enactment of the Petroleum Income Tax Law, again by the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) Government provided a separate tax regime for the petroleum sector.[1]

Between the years 1983 and 1989, the GNPC concluded several agreements with a number of foreign firms, and in 1989 the country's first and only refinery at Tema (as of 2011) underwent its first major rehabilitation.[1]

2007 Onwards

In June 2007, the GNPC announced a significant discovery of light oil offshore at the Jubilee Field together with partners Tullow Oil and Kosmos Energy. According to Tullow Oil, it was one of the biggest oil finds in Africa in recent times.[4]

The Jubilee field began producing in December 2010, and is estimated to hold 1.5 billion barrels of oil. In January 2012 Tullow Oil Plc, the lead company in Ghana’s oil production, that it expected production at the Jubilee oil field for 2012 to average between 70,000 and 90,000 barrels per day (bpd).[5]

In July 2011 it was announced that Italian firm Eni had discovered gas and condensate with its Gye Nyame 1 exploration well offshore Ghana.[6] Following this, in August 2011 the head of the Ghana National Gas Company announced that that Ghana will borrow $800 million from the state-owned China Development Bank to develop its natural gas infrastructure and the first gas could be expected by the end of 2012 or early 2013.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 A concise history of oil and gas in GhanaGhana Oil Watch, 20 June 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 History of Oil Discovery In GhanaGhana Web, 19 November 2009.
  3. Brief History of GhanaTullow Oil, Retrieved 13 February 2012.
  4. UK's Tullow uncovers oil in GhanaBBC News, 18 June 2007.
  5. Tullow puts Ghana’s oil production for this year at 90 thousand barrelsGhana Oil Online, 19 January 2012.
  6. Eni's new gas discovery may lead to first FLNG development offshore GhanaPenn Energy, 28 July 2011
  7. Ghana to borrow $800m from China to develop gasGhana Web, 12 August 2011.