Ghana: Oil City Stories

Only a few months into the oil business and Ghana already has its Oil City. Takoradi, capital of the Western Region, has a new nickname and, if the boosters are correct, will soon be Ghana's boomtown.

On December 15th, 2010, Ghana became the latest African nation to join the oil producers' club. During a ceremony broadcast live across the nation, President John Atta Mills opened the valves on the country's first offshore platform, the "Kwame Nkrumah," and the oil began to flow.

Ghana's Jubilee field holds an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of oil and with several new discoveries and other offshore blocks looking promising, Ghana is poised to become a significant player in the coming years.

President Mills has promised that oil income will be used to promote economic development and that Ghana will avoid the so-called "resource curse." The country recently passed a landmark Petroleum Revenue Management Plan and many observers are cautiously optimistic.

But that doesn't mean the road ahead won't be perilous. Oil money will test Ghana's democratic institutions, and the government's response to the "oil challenge" has significance for the entire Gulf of Guinea region where "new" oil has been found from Sierra Leone to Angola.

In a series of ongoing reports, Christiane Badgley examines how oil money (or the dream of it) is already changing life on the ground in the Western Region. She also investigates the significant environmental concerns related to Ghana's fast-track development of deep-water offshore drilling.

This project is a collaboration between the Pulitzer Center and the Center for Public Integrity's International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Will Oil Mean Jobs?

Ghanaians assumed new employment opportunities would arise after oil was discovered off shore several years ago, but thousands are still waiting for jobs to materialize.

A local company recently held a graduation ceremony for 913 people trained in welding, pipefitting, electrical work and specialized construction. The graduates were participants in a new program intended to create a qualified labor pool for Ghana’s new oil industry. But officials say only 1,000 jobs will be created by 2020 and some of those jobs may not be given to Ghanaians.

Fish vs. Oil: Officials Respond to Fishermen

Fisherman in Ghana are angry: they feel the fledgling oil industry is severely disrupting their fishing activities. Moreover, government officials are reluctant to speak on the issue.

Fish vs. Oil Part 2

For the small village of Abuesiin Ghana, fishing plays an essential role in nearly every resident's life. But oil spills are threatening the village's very life source.

Fish vs. Oil Part 1: A Delicate Balance

In the western region of Ghana, oil drilling is disrupting the livelihoods of local fisherman, who believe the government is privileging oil development over their needs.