The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) has ruled that Ghana may proceed with on-going oil exploration projects in the disputed area of the maritime boundary with the Ivory Coast in the Atlantic Ocean.
[contextly_sidebar id=”rFB7DYBAiw8fiAN8yv8Cx9PXbZqTZ5oY”]The Tribunal has however directed Ghana to ensure that the country “take all necessary steps to ensure that no new drilling either by Ghana or under its control takes place in the disputed area.”
The Ivory Coast had filed an injunction appeal to the Tribunal to among other things, direct Ghana to take all steps to suspend all ongoing oil exploration and exploitation operations in the disputed area and refrain from granting any new permit for oil exploration and exploitation in the disputed area.
But the Tribunal rejected this request from the Ivory Coast noting that “the suspension of ongoing activities conducted by Ghana in respect of which drilling has already taken place would entail the risk of considerable financial loss to Ghana and its concessionaires.”
The Tribunal stated that “Côte d’Ivoire has not adduced sufficient evidence to support its allegations that the activities conducted by Ghana in the disputed area are such as to create an imminent risk of serious harm to the marine environment.”
The ruling also noted that any suspension in ongoing drilling projects might lead to the deterioration of equipment which could in turn “pose a serious danger to the marine environment”
“An order suspending all exploration or exploitation activities conducted by or on behalf of Ghana in the disputed area, including activities in respect of which drilling has already taken place, would cause prejudice to the rights claimed by Ghana and create an undue burden on it and that such an order could also cause harm to the marine environment,” the ruling added.
The ruling went further to direct Ghana to “take all necessary steps to prevent information resulting from past, ongoing or future exploration activities conducted by Ghana, or with its authorization, in the disputed area that is not already in the public domain from being used in any way whatsoever to the detriment of Côte d’Ivoire.”
The verdict will come as a relief to Ghana as the country’s second biggest oil field, the TEN project, which is operated by Tullow falls under the disputed area and a ruling in favour of the Ivory Coast would have been a massive setback in Ghana’s oil exploration efforts.
Ghana and Ivory Coast will now have to submit a report and information on compliance with any provisional measures prescribed by the Tribunal “not later than 25 May 2015.”
By: Edwin Kwakofi/citifmonline.com/Ghana