According to Bloomberg, the Government of Ghana has asked EniSpA to merge its Sankofa offshore oil field with a neighbouring discovery made by a Ghanaian explorer.

The Ghanaian government wants to maximise the recovery of petroleum resources. In a letter dated October 14th, the Minister of Energy, John-Peter Amewu said the move became necessary after Eni and Accra-based Springfield Exploration and Production Limited missed a deadline to have an arrangement for combining the fields.

Eni had earlier opposed the unitisation of Sankofa with Springfield’s Afina field. The Italian oil major operates the field in a venture with Vitol Holding BV. Eni said that Springfield was yet to sufficiently test its discovery to show that it shares a reservoir.

It is a common practice within the oil industry to combine fields that are in the same geological structure. The ‘unitisation’ is for the distribution of resources between license holders in proportion to their share of the initial discoveries, which will allow for more efficient development of the resources using shared infrastructure.

Eni is to be the operator of the unitised area. Springfield had announced that Afina has 1.5 billion barrels of oil. Eni’s website states that Sankofa has reserves of about 40 billion cubic metres of natural gas and 500 million barrels of oil.

In the letter addressed to Eni and Springfield, the Minister of Energy stated that it is “obvious that (they) do not intend to comply with the Ministry of Energy’s directives.”

“The Minister of Energy now imposes terms and conditions for the unitization of the Afina and Sankofa fields to ensure optimum exploitation and recovery of Ghana’s petroleum resources.”

After the letter was served, a statement by Eni read, “Eni is in contact with all the pertinent stakeholders, including the relevant Ministry in Ghana, in order to define a way forward and evaluate any case for potential unitization in accordance with applicable law and international good oilfield practice.”

In an e-mail, Springfield’s Corporate Affairs Manager, Kenneth Noonoo said, “we look forward to working with Eni as the operator of the unitized field in maximizing the production and the economic benefits for all stakeholders, including the Government and citizens of Ghana.”