Ghana opens defence against Ivory Coast in oil exploration dispute
Ghana's legal team has opened its defence at the International Tribunal of the Sea saying if the court upholds Ivory Coast's claim it would cause “incalculable” and “irreparable” damage to the Nation.
Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Marietta Brew Oppong-Appiah argued on Sunday in Hamburg, Germany, that “the impact of the provisional measures sought [by Ivory Coast] will be extraordinarily serious for Ghana”.
“If the order were granted and all work had to stop, it will have a devastating impact on our oil production” she maintained and also accused Ivory Coast of making “unfound allegations” against Ghana and Tullow Oil company.
The dispute involves ownership of portions the country's second biggest oil field, Tweneboa Eneryra, Ntome popularly known as TEN.
Both legal teams are trying to demonstrate that irreparable damage would be done to their economies if the ruling goes the other way.
Cote d'Ivoire opened its case in the morning, also insisting that “grave damage” has “already been caused and continues to cause grave damage” to their country because of Ghana's stance that the territory is theirs.
The Ivorian's plea to the court is that “Ghana shall take all steps necessary to prevent information resulting from past, ongoing or future exploration activities conducted by Ghana, with or with its authorisation, from being used in any way whatsoever to the detriment of Cote d'Ivoire”.
The absence of such a restraint will bring “incalculable loss” to them.
They argue that Ghana already has seismic data which could be used against Ivorian interest and asked that any gathering and processing “should stop immediately”.
But Marrietta Brew Oppong-Appiah rejects this view.
Detailing Ghana's further loss, an external lawyer for Ghana argued that Tullow had sunk over $4billion in the TEN project which is 50% complete.
Ghana currently has nine concessions affected by Ivory Coast's claim. Eight of these concessions are under exploration and have reached “advanced stages”.
She predicts that Ghana could lose over $2.2billion by 2017 which is 215% more than the budget for the Health Ministry.
For an economy learning to depend on oil revenue, she says there will be “inherently unquantifiable loss to Ghana's economy” because it would affect education, health and infrastructural developments in the country.
Ghana's external defence
According to Ghana's defence team the TEN project being explored by Tullow is a “mega-project,” involving “myriad contractors, sub-contractors in a series of highly complex” business chains which will also be affected if Ivory Coast prevails.
The team has been arguing that Ivory Coast sat down without any sense of “urgency” while Ghana discovered oil, debated bill in Parliament to cover the exploration, signed deals with Tullow Oil and publicly and “openly” licensed others.
The Ghanaian team said, in all this “Cote d'Ivoire did not object “because there has been a 40-year understanding that the border now in dispute belonged to Ghana.
“Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire demonstrated in practices and maps that there was agreed border separating [ the two countries]....accepted and respected for 40 years....each side showed repeated manifestation of agreed border to invest heavily” on their side of the line, the team posited.
Cote d'Ivoire only came to dispute this territory using as evidence maps they have altered with “three different lines in just three years”.
The first meridian No.1 was presented in 2009, meridian no.2 came in 2010 and in 2011, Cote d'Ivoire adopted “an entirely different approach” using equidistance formula.
The lawyers argue Cote d'Ivoire's claim has been “illogical and inconsistent” and “literally all over the map”.
Ghana rejected the Ivorian claim that it is suffering incalculable damage because they have been unable to provide no evidence to this effect.
Ghana insists that any damage to Cote d'Ivoire is “not irreparable harm”. They also dismissed as an “offense unsupported by evidence and untrue”, the claim by Ivory Coast that Ghana's work was having an environmental impact on Ivorian shores.
The court is on recess and will return at 5pm.
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