The pandemic hit the oil and gas sector hard and oil prices spiralled down rapidly. The downturn is causing anxiety and is deterring projects from being pursued as planned. The pandemic has caused major players in Ghana such as Aker Energy to re-strategise due to new supply chain complexities as well as current oil prices. At the beginning of the year, we had amazing projections of what was going to happen in our industry within the next two to three years. Companies like Aker Energy, ENI, Tullow Oil, and Exxon Mobil were making big moves. All of their laid out plans are up in the air at the moment, but things may change for the better as we progress into a more stable situation.
The silver lining is that the challenges experienced this year are stimulating a global shift to renewable energy. Companies and investors are looking at alternative sources of energy, and that will lead to new opportunities for companies such as ourselves. In regards to local content, the Petroleum Commission has done well to ensure international companies have local joint venture partners and transfer knowledge and skills to these local partners. By building local capacity tangible benefits shall trickle down to local communities in many ways.
Many oil and gas projects in Africa have experienced force majeure or delays across the upstream and midstream sectors on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has also sped up the transition to renewable energy as oil majors and legacy energy companies increasingly set targets and explore money-backed strategies to reduce hydrocarbons by 2030.
Despite this, oil and gas exploration and development will remain critical for decades to come in order to meet demand.
Harlequin Group, an indigenous fabrication, general engineering and hydraulic company based in Ghana believes there is much scope for international partnerships to harness the region’s oil, gas and mining industries for inclusive growth.
We are at an advantageous position being so close to Nigeria. Ghana can learn from the Nigerian experience and also gain from the relationship they have with the Norwegian government. If we want to position ourselves as a serious player despite being so new in the industry, we will need to put in place a strong policy that supports indigenous oil and gas companies. The government must also provide some tax holidays that will pull in investors and build our profile.
Our growth as a company can serve as a blueprint for other local players, as well as a teachable moment for the government. Current and future administrations must always ensure that locals are involved in our natural resources. We intend to add value to the natural resource by eventually building a gas processing plant. Our natural gas will be processed and the by-products will be handed to LPG companies, fertiliser companies, and others. Processing will help us create new industries and improve our economic fortunes greatly.
In the mid to long term, we are looking to be an international player in the oil and gas sector. We are ready to go for any opportunities we identify in other African countries. The ratification of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement will help us scale the business to other countries in the region and beyond. Our success will heavily hinge on the way the AfCFTA agreement is enforced and managed. Signing a historic deal like that is big, but it will be useless if there will be a lot of red tape and efficiency problems.
Our international exploits will not just be limited to the African continent. As we speak, we are looking to take advantage of the oil finds in Guyana. We are deeply engaged with the Guyanese government and are involved in the tendering process. Our foray into Guyana shows that we are not afraid to venture out and grow. If the AfCFTA agreement is executed well, we will be able to venture far and wide all over the continent of Africa. We have made contact with oil and gas players in Egypt and even in Nigeria, so our Africa agenda is well on course.