28 April 2010 – 10:51am
SOURCE: Radio Netherlands World (Africa Desk)
Officials from Ghana and Ivory Coast on Tuesday opened talks over a dispute about the two neighbours’ offshore boundary, which falls in an oil-rich zone.
Ghana’s recent discovery of oil reserves off its coast has sparked off a row with Ivory Coast over the border, with Accra accusing Abidjan of claiming part of its maritime space.
“It is our hope that the two countries can come out with an amicable solution to the issue working in the same spirit that guided the demarcation of the land boundaries,” Desire Tagro, Ivorian interior minister, said at the start of the two-day border talks.
However he pointed out that the border talks had nothing to do with Ghana’s oil find.
“Let me state here that although the demarcation concerns natural resources, the delimitation is not about the oil fields,” he said.
The two countries’ boundary commissions are expected map out ways on how the border drawing negotiations should proceed despite both having already presented their proposals to the United Nations for the determination of the maritime boundaries.
Collins Dauda, Ghana’s minister of lands and natural resources stressed the need to demarcate the boundaries to prevent disputes with neighbouring countries over natural resources and facilitate the exploration, exploitation and conservation of transboundary resources.
“Boundaries create certainty and this certainty is vital to Ghana’s and Cote d’Ivoire’s national interests,” Dauda said using the country’s French name.
Ghana, which starts commercially producing crude later this year, recently announced the discovery of another “extensive deepwater petroleum province” offshore Ghana.
The Dzata 1 find by Russia’s oil giant Lukoil and its partner Houston-based Vanco Energy is about 100 kilometres (60 miles) away from the Jubilee oilfields, where significant
hydrocarbons have also been found.
The Jubilee field is one of the largest oil finds in West Africa in the past decade. Ghana says the maritime border in the Gulf of Guinea was never formally demarcated but for years the neighbours had respected “a median line” between them.
But Ivory Coast had complained that Ghana was violating this informal boundary.