GHANA INVEST: Upgrading Takoradi Port, where crude oil brings you water

Drilling oil requires large amounts of water, but Takoradi city suffers from perennial shortages. Four desalination plants are set to fill the gap.

TAKORADI Port is set to be transformed into a major oil fields hub to serve not only Ghana, but also the rest of West Africa’s emerging markets.

This was revealed during a leading investment forum organised by Mail & Guardian Africa and hosted by the Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC) and the Ghana High Commissioner in Johannesburg, June 19.

Takoradi harbour, located 230 km from the capital Accra, is part of the greater Sekondi-Takoradi industrial district, handles 37% Ghana’s seaborne traffic and 62% of national exports, primarily cocoa, timber, bauxite and manganese.

Since its construction nearly 90 years ago, little improvement has been done to the port.

But all that was to change with the discovery of commercial quantities of oil in 2007, and Takoradiincreasingly became a national strategic asset to support the nation’s emerging oil and gas sector.

By 2019, Ghanaian oilfields operated by Ireland-based hydrocarbon firm Tullow Oil and Italy-based ENI, is set to produce a peak rate of 180,000 barrels of oil per day.

This has prompted the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority to fast-track the transformation of Takoradi Port and turn it into a world class one-stop oifields service hub.

In 2013, Singapore-listed company Viking Offshore received Free Zone status and an allocation of approximately 200,000 sq.metres from the  Ghanaian authorities to redevelop Takoradi.

As part of the agreement with GPHA, Viking Offshore in 2012 set up a dedicated one-stop berthing facility for oil and gas alongside Halliburton, where supply vessels can receive cement, liquid mud, drill water, marine diesel, supplies and to handle offshore waste management.

The project includes the reclamation of an area called the Log Pond by backfilling it with 700,000 cubic metres of quarry material, a modern quay wall and deep-water berths, a general quayside service area and 2.3 km of wide service roads.

One of the biggest requirements for offshore drilling operations – as in Ghana’s deep water oil fields – is large quantities of water, which have to be shipped to the oil rigs by smaller supply vessels.

But oil companies in Ghana have had a huge problem because of an acute water shortage around Takoradi City. Supply vessels have had to run to Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire to collect drill water for oil rigs in Ghana, at astronomic cost.

To fill the water shortfall, Viking Offshore recently imported four desalination plants of which the first two are already producing one million litres of fresh water per day; when all four are running, a total of 2.8 million litres of water per day will be produced inside the port.

Desalination plants

These desalination plants are now a major source of water for both the port and the offshore oilrigs, and Halliburton’s cement plant at Takoradi supplies the oilrigs with liquid mud necessary for drilling.

In the longer term, the desalination plants are expected to supply other outlets in the Sekondi-Takoradi metropolis in view of the perennial water shortage in the twin city.

Upgrading the port also required a large storage capacity for diesel, which is used by oilrigs and their smaller supply vessels.

Last week the Ghana Oil Company (GOIL) broke ground to build, own and operate a marine diesel tank farm with a 12,500 cubic metre storage capacity inside the port. The tank farm, which will cost $14 million, will serve the entire port through a grid of pipelines and supply West Africa’s offshore operations with oil storage capacity.

Two other oil and gas multinationals, namely FMC Technologies and Intertek set also up inside Takoradi port since 2012. FMC provides Oil & gas equipment and services while Intertek is an inspection, product testing and certification company,

Several other oil companies such as ExxonMobil and AGM Petroleum/GNPC that also secured offshore oil concessions are expected to start drilling within the foreseeable future.

Takoradi port’s Oilfields Service Hub and its Free Zone status thus offer numerous investment and business opportunities for international investors willing to team up with reputable Ghanaian companies.

Johan Zietsman is the CEO of Viking Offshore Support Services; he has been living in Ghana for the past 20 years and also set up successful local partnerships in the oil industry for helicopter, manpower, supply vessel, fabrication, certification and other offshore services.

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