Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ghana signs oil development deal

Ghana, riding high from President Barack Obama's visit this month, quietly signed a long-awaited development plan for one of the biggest oil discoveries in West Africa in the past decade.

The agreement -- reached July 15 with a group of international oil companies after months of negotiations -- brings Ghana much closer to its stated goal of producing oil by the second half of 2010.

Celebrated for its democratic rule and stability on a continent more often associated with coups d'état and violence, Ghana is trying to figure out how to handle the oil discovery responsibly and avoid the problems that have beset other oil-rich African nations.

That Ghana has held five consecutive democratic elections -- the most recent one in December -- and is mostly peaceful has inspired confidence among many analysts that the country will better handle its oil and gas resources than Nigeria or Angola and Equatorial Guinea.

Nigeria has squandered hundreds of billions of dollars in oil revenue over the past four decades due largely to corrupt government officials. It also faces a violent militant campaign that has led to hundreds of foreigners and locals being kidnapped and pipeline attacks that regularly shut down the flow of oil.

Ghana has a more diverse revenue stream than Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea: It is the world's second-largest cocoa producer after neighboring Ivory Coast and Africa's second-largest gold producer after South Africa.

2nd? I'd no idea.

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