September 25, 2014

Ghana and Ivory Coast head to court over sea boundary

Ghana and Ivory Coast are heading to a United Nations tribunal to resolve a dispute over the maritime boundary separating the two oil-producing nations, Ghana’s attorney general said on Thursday.

The maritime border between the two countries cuts through offshore oil fields that both nations are eager to exploit, but there are claims the boundary has not been properly demarcated.

Attorney General Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong told AFP that Ghana decided to file a suit against its neighbour under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea after months of talks failed to reach an agreement.

“The friendly thing to do is ask an impartial arbiter to determine the issue on your behalf,” Appiah-Oppong said of Accra’s decision.

Both Ghana and Ivory Coast denied that the lawsuit signalled a change in relations between the two countries, which are west Africa’s second- and third-largest economies respectively.

“The two countries are talking and will continue to talk,” Ivory Coast government spokesman Bruno Kone said in Abidjan. “We are neighbours and are duty-bound to get along.”

Ghana is a major producer of gold and cocoa and began commercial oil production in 2010 from the Jubilee oil field along its western border, which produces 100,000 barrels per day.

Ivory Coast, which is the world’s largest producer of cocoa, is looking to boost its existing offshore oil production as well as to encourage a revival of its mining and agriculture sectors after a decade of conflict.