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Women who saved Ghana’s oilfields


Critical court judgement gives former Gold Coast renewed control over oil assets

By Nsikan Ikpe


Women have always played a critical role in the life of the people of Ghana. Some communities trace their descent matrilineally. In a few kingdoms, the Queen mother is a most powerful office. The current Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Wood is a woman. Ditto the Chair of the National Election Commission, Charlotte Osei.


Add to this now, the lead facilitators of the recently resolved maritime dispute with Cote d’Ivoire where the courts ruled in favour of Ghana on Saturday. The two critical persons that won for Ghana are immediate past Attorney-General, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong and the incumbent holder of the office, Gloria Afua Akuffo. Both are women (pictured above)


As has now emerged in the public domain, the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) unanimously ruled that Ghana did not violate the rights of the Ivory Coast in oil exploration within and beyond 200 nm (nautical miles).


The Hamburg-based court also ruled that Ghana does not have to pay any reparation to Ivory Coast on account of its previous exploration of oil within the disputed off-shore boundaries that are located within the adjoining Atlantic Ocean.


The dispute started since Ghana’s discovery of oil in 2007 which Ivory Coast laid claims to. Series of failed negotiations led Ghana to file a case at the ITLOS in 2014 to rule on the delimitation of the maritime boundary between the two countries.


A special chamber was inaugurated in 2015 and presided over by ITLOS Vice-President Boualem Bouguetaia and included another member of the Tribunal with two ad hoc judges to deal with the dispute.


The court redefined the boundary in its ruling which said the single maritime boundary beyond 200 nm should start at BP 55+ “with the coordinates 05° 05’ 23.2” N, 03° 06’ 21.2’’ W in WGS 84 as a geodetic datum”.


“The boundary continues as a geodetic line starting at an azimuth of 191° 38’ 06.7’’ until it reaches the outer limits of the continental shelf,” it added.


This cuts off just a little of Ghana’s boundary claim of geographic coordinates 05° 05’ 28.4” N and 03° 06’ 21.8” W. It also goes against the Ivory Coast’s claim that the single maritime boundary follows the 168.7o azimuth line.


The court however also rejected Ghana’s claim to bar Ivory Coast from objecting to the “customary equidistance boundary”.


In summary, the ruling translates into this: Ghana can keep its oil concessions and even go ahead to develop the Tweneboa, Enyira and Ntome (TEN) oil fields in the area in the further hope that the historic and continuing gold producing nation may even find some more ‘black gold’ therein.


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