Court affirms Energy Minister’s directive on Afina-Sankofa Unitisation

A Commercial High Court in Accra has ruled that the former Energy Minister, John Peter Amewu, acted perfectly within the law when he directed the Italian Oil giant subsidiary Eni Ghana, and Springfield Exploration and Production Limited, to unitise their Sankofa and Afina operations.

The Court, in a ruling, dismissing an application by Eni and Vitol Upstream Ghana for a judicial review of the directive by the minister and said: “A careful reading of Section 34 (1) of the Petroleum  Exploration Act, (Act 919) of the year 2018 does not show that the Minister for Energy’s directive violated the said provision of the law”.

Justice Emmanuel Kwesi Mensah (Presiding) in his ruling on Thursday, October 21st said the court, after carefully reviewing all the affidavit evidence on record in respect of the review application together with their attached exhibits and statements of claim, firmly concluded that the Judicial Review filed by the two oil companies was unmeritorious and should fail.

Eni and Vitol filed a suit on April 12, 2021 asking the Commercial Court to declare the directive by Mr. Amewu in  October and November 2020  purporting to impose terms and conditions for unitisation of the Afina discovery and Sankofa field as illegal, arbitrary and unfair to them.

They also prayed the court to declare that the minister did not follow due process of the law in issuing the purported directives and an order quashing the directives.

Further explaining the basis for the decision, the Court cited the motion paper to the application as incompetent as it failed to comply with provisions of Order55 Rule 1 of the Rules of court. “One also sees in the instant application that the reading of the affidavit in support of the application confirms that the application does not state the reliefs claimed by the Applicants in the proceedings before the Court,” it stated.

“It is my view that this omission to state the relief or remedy sought by the Applicant in the affidavit in support of the application violates the provisions of Order 55 Rule 4(2)(c) of the Rules of Court,” the Court said.

The Court also referred to the timing of the application and said, in its view, it was wrong. It said the application ought to have been made in line with Order 55 Rule3,  which provides that application for judicial review shall be made not later than six months from the date of the occurrence of the event, giving grounds for making the application.

Government in 2020 declared the Sankofa Field and Afina Well unitised through the Minister of Energy, and directed ENI and Springfield to commence exchange of data with the view to unitising the two areas to ensure optimisation of the resource.

Since the directive, the two companies have failed to agree on the way forward. Whereas Eni totally rejects the idea, saying it was a rush decision, Springfield has also been in court for the law to be enforced to the letter in line with Petroleum laws of the country.