Ghana’s efforts to explore and develop the country’s oil potential, spearheaded by the Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC), culminated in the 2007 discovery of oil in commercial quantities offshore at Cape Three Points in the Western region. Three years later, production commenced at the Jubilee Field.
Public expectations, already high, were further fuelled by politicians who portrayed oil revenues as a panacea and made their management a campaign issue (McCaskie, 2008). The New Patriotic Party (NPP) promised to use oil revenues to propel Ghana to accelerated economic growth and development and to improve socioeconomic conditions. The National Democratic Congress (NDC) matched that promise and raised the ante by vowing to use some of the oil revenues to create a fund for the development of the region where the resource is located, which played well with traditional leaders in the oil region.
Estimates of 600 million barrels of oil in the Jubilee Field (Civil Society Platform, 2011) and more than 900 million more in untapped wells nearby mark Ghana as a potential member of the league of leading oil producers on the African continent. As in Nigeria, Angola, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, the Republic of Congo, and Equatorial Guinea, this promises spectacular revenues while also threatening the “resource curse” or “Dutch disease” due to mismanagement or dissipation of oil revenues through corrupt government practices (Le Billon, 2005; Basedau, 2005).