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Ghana, China reach $800 mn gas development deal
by Staff Writers
Accra (AFP) Aug 12, 2011

Ghana will borrow $800 million from China to build natural gas infrastructure, the head of the national gas company said Friday, months after the country became Africa's newest major oil producer.

"An agreement has been reached and we have secured $800 million from the Chinese Development Bank for the project to take off," George Sipa-Adzah Yankey told AFP on Friday.

He said the West African nation's government had signed off on the deal and parliament is now expected to approve it. Further details of the loan were not yet disclosed.

The deal marks the latest sign of China's growing influence in Africa as well as Ghana's bid to capitalise on its recent oil and gas discoveries.

The country's government had pledged that major oil production, which began in December, would not result in the flaring of gas -- essentially burning it off -- with the practice viewed as harmful to the environment.

But the country did not have infrastructure in place to properly develop its gas resources when oil production began.

The work resulting from the loan from China will include pipeline construction, and the country is expected to begin producing gas by the end of 2012 at the earliest, said Yankey of the Ghana National Gas Company.

He said gas production is expected to stabilise at around 120 million cubic feet per day.

Ghana has begun producing oil from its offshore Jubilee field, one of the largest discoveries in West Africa in recent years. The field's operator is Anglo-Irish firm Tullow.

Tullow said in July it was producing around 80,000 barrels a day and expected to reach 120,000 bpd this month. It has estimated that the field's recoverable resources amount to up to one billion barrels.

China has previously shown interest in Ghana's oil, with the Asian nation seeking to fulfill its growing energy needs.

Ghana is viewed as a model of democracy in West Africa, but its newly found oil wealth has brought with it warnings of the so-called resource curse, with many pointing to nearby Nigeria as an example.

Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer, has long been held back by deeply rooted corruption and mismanagement, while aspects of its economy outside of oil have been neglected.

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Vietnamese allow 10th anti-China rally
Hanoi (AFP) Aug 14, 2011 - Vietnamese authorities allowed around 100 protesters to march in Hanoi on Sunday against Chinese territorial ambitions in the South China Sea -- the 10th such demonstration since early June.

China and Vietnam have a long-running dispute over the sovereignty of the potentially oil-rich Paracel and Spratly island groups, which straddle vital commercial shipping lanes in the waters.

Overtly political rallies are rare in Vietnam, but tensions with Beijing have risen since May when Hanoi said Chinese vessels cut the exploration cables of an oil survey ship inside the country's exclusive economic zone.

Police have since broken up two anti-China rallies in communist Vietnam, after talks with Beijing in June, but the other street action has been allowed to go ahead.

During Sunday's peaceful demonstration around Hoan Kiem lake, participants -- including students and intellectuals bearing banners -- shouted slogans in memory of Vietnamese soldiers killed during past incidents with China.

Vietnamese bitterly recall 1,000 years of Chinese occupation and, more recently, a 1979 border war. More than 70 Vietnamese sailors were killed in 1988 when the two sides battled off the Spratlys.

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Venezuelans worry over high inflation
Caracas, Venezuela (UPI) Aug 11, 2011
As Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez undergoes cancer treatment in Cuba, the national economy's management he left in the hands of his trusted stewards is proving to be another test of nerves for economists, investors and ordinary consumers alike. With little sign of a two-year recession dissipating in response to consumer demand, official data indicated Venezuela's price index rose 2.7 ... read more

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