Ofori-Atta Appoints Bank of American as Advisors for Dubious Aker US$1.6 billion Crude Oil Transaction

Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta has invoked the suspicious Single Source Procurement Method to appoint the Bank of America Securities (BofA) as the transaction advisor for the contentious US$1.6 billion transaction got some significant stake in the oil blocs owned by Aker Energy.

Ghana wants 37% interest in the Deep Water Tano Cape Three Points (DWT/CTP) operated by Aker Energy Ghana Limited and a 70% stake in the South Deepwater Tano (SDWT) operated by AGM Petroleum Ghana Limited.

The notorious single-source method applied at the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) on 11th of August 2021 has paved the way for the Akufo Addo administration to engage BofA in a transaction that is linked to cronyism from family and friends of the Jubilee House.

Already, red flags have been sent flying over the deal in terms of the huge investment required. Civil society organisations have warned that the valuation of Aker’s assets has been overpriced to benefit some faceless individuals waiting in the wings.

A Petroleum Economist and Political Risk Analyst, Dr. Theo Acheampong, has stated that the proposed $1.65bn Aker Energy/AGM–GNPC farm-out deal is overpriced.

Speaking on the Joy FM on Tuesday, August 10, Dr. Acheampong said, “In my view, there’s overpricing of the assets, the assumptions that went into the assets need to be questioned and we shouldn’t be paying for the amounts that are being quoted”

Suspiciously, the GNPC is seeking to sink in some US$1.3 billion of that money to buy back a 37% stake in the Deep Water Tano/Cape Three Points asset operated by Aker Energy AS and a 70% stake of the South Deep Water Tano (SDWT) field which GNPC previously had over 43% stake in but was dubiously reduced to 18% following a convoluted renegotiation of that contract with Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta playing a major role in it.

Around 2019, the Akufo Addo administration caused a serious uproar among industry players and civil society groups by pushing Parliament to renegotiate a 2013 Petroleum agreement between Ghana and AGM Petroleum/Aker Energy Petroleum resulting in the decline of GNPC’s stake 43 percent to 18 percent in the SDWT bloc which it is seeking the staggering loan from Parliament to buy back stakes it relinquished recently.

When GNPC’s stake through several opaque boardroom dealings were dropped, suddenly, a new local content partner Quad Energy which was nowhere involved in the oil bloc was sprung into play reportedly by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta.

Quad Energy. Quad is owned by Joseph Babatunde Ampah and his Uncle David Adomako, who Whatsup News gathered was smuggled onto the AKER board by Mr. Ofori-Atta. As for Mr.

Babatunde Ampah, is a close family friend of President Akufo Addo and his cousin Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta.

Indeed, Mr. Ampah was a Vice President in charge of Investment in Ken Ofori-Atta’s company, Databank Financial Services.

“After analysing the proposals by GNPC and Government, we are clear in our minds that the transactions, if approved, will short-change Ghana. Therefore, we request Parliament to intervene, given that the deal has gone through all the relevant branches of the Executive1, ostensibly glossing over important threats of the transaction to the country’s fiscal situation.

Today, the Alliance of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working on Extractives, Anti-Corruption and Good Governance raised serious red flags through a press statement released this week.

The loan for the transaction being surreptitiously pushed through the Ghanaian parliament amounts to short-changing Ghanaian taxpayers funds and unduly burdening the country with extra debt.

“After analysing the proposals by GNPC and Government, we are clear in our minds that the transactions, if approved, will short-change Ghana. Therefore, we request Parliament to intervene, given that the deal has gone through all the relevant branches of the Executive1, ostensibly glossing over important threats of the transaction to the country’s fiscal situation,” the CSO alliance warned.

 Aker claims it has spent about US$420 million on five wells drilled on the two blocks and documents Economic Management Team (EMT) shows that the US$420 million relates only to three wells on DWT/CTP. 

But industry CSOs think Aker had all along unduly inflated its operational cost to the Akufo Addo administration in what could be a complex conspiracy to loot, given how closely tied the Finance Minister is tied to Aker Energy.

Industry watchers believe that Aker’s comeback was a carefully planned heist. Meanwhile, in December 2019, controversial New York-based Africawatch Magazine linked what it terms President Akufo Addo’s ‘Family and Friends’ to Aker Energy’s oil contract in Ghana that had curiously enjoyed exceptionally favourable treatment by the administration.

Africawatch’s investigation revealed that 69-year-old Norwegian businessman Kristian Arvid Haug who incidentally dubiously sold his home to Ghana to be used as Ghana’s Embassy in Oslo, is a close family friend of President Akufo Addo, and that Huag had been shuttling between Accra and Oslo, through London with some of the President’s relatives to meet with Norwegian oil companies. One such company, Africawatch hints, is Aker Energy ASA or Norway owned by Norwegian billionaire Kjell Inge Rokke.

The Magazine claims that it was through this close family dealing that resulted in GNPC’s stake being reduced in the two oil blocs currently doing a comeback in GNPC’s priority list.

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