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ACCRA, May 17 (Reuters) - Ghana is set to award nine new upstream oil blocks for commercial exploration off its western coast beginning this year, the energy ministry said on Thursday.
The West African country plans to award six of the nine blocks this year while the remaining three will be given out next year through a mix of open competitive tender and direct negotiations, the ministry said in a statement.
It said state oil company Ghana National Petroleum Corporation will acquire one of the blocks to explore in partnership with a strategic partner to develop its technical capacity and become an operator.
Ghana, which began commercial crude production in late 2010, currently produces around 180,000 barrels per day mainly from three fields offshore the western coast, including its flagship Jubilee reserves operated by UK’s Tullow Oil Plc.
“This year’s licensing round focus would be on the western basin because of the existence of infrastructure, including two gas pipelines to the shore, three production facilities with a fourth FPSO in the offing by 2021,” it said.
The government on Thursday named a 23-member committee to oversee the allocation of oil blocks to local and international companies through evaluation and negotiation. (Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; editing by Andrew Heavens and Lisa Shumaker)