Ghana oil production yet to peak

More than a year after Ghana pumped its first commercial crude oil, production is yet to reach its capacity of 120,000 barrels per day (bpd).

Tullow Oil, operator of Ghana’s offshore Jubilee Field, recently said in a statement that it produced an average of 66,000 bpd in 2011. The company expects production to average between 70,000 to 90,000 bpd in 2012, suggesting it will only hit peak capacity in 2013.

It was earlier reported that Tullow and its partners also plan to produce crude from the Enyenra and Tweneboa oil fields off Ghana’s Atlantic coast. The first oil from these fields could be pumped by 2015.

According to Renaissance Capital, “the introduction of crude oil as an export in 2011 was positive for Ghana’s external sector. Crude oil usurped cocoa and became Ghana’s second-biggest merchandise export, after gold, generating $1.97bn in export earnings in [the first nine months of 2011]. Notably, this performance was even before oil production reached its capacity of 120,000 bpd.”

Standard Bank says Ghana’s real GDP grew by 23% in the first three months of 2011, compared to the same period the previous year. GDP growth in the second quarter was 16%, suggesting Ghana was the world’s fastest growing economy in the first half of 2011. Oil production accounted for much of this growth.

Ghana’s gold producers could potentially also be in for a good year. According to a Renaissance forecast, the price of gold will increase significantly to an average of $1,738/oz in 2012, from $1,573/oz in 2011.