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West Africa: ECOWAS Hydrocarbon Experts Finalized Draft Regional Petroleum Code


Experts from Ministries in charge of Hydrocarbon of some ECOWAS Member States met from 31st August to 2nd September 2022 in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire for a final review and alignment of the draft ECOWAS Petroleum Code (ECOPEC). This was done ahead of its upcoming submission for validation by sector ministers.

The Abidjan meeting comes after a regional validation workshop of the initial draft regional Petroleum Code, which was held in Accra, Ghana from 25 to 27 May 2022. It had in attendance a representative of the African Development Bank, the consultant responsible for the study, and delegates from seven ECOWAS Member States, including Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. After three days of closed-door meeting, the participants completed a detailed review of all the provisions of the draft text with necessary amendments and further aligned the French and English versions of the draft regional Petroleum Code.

After this meeting, ECOWAS is to organize a meeting of Ministers in charge of Hydrocarbon in October 2022 to be preceded by an experts’ meeting for validation of the draft regional Petroleum Code. Thereafter, the draft regional Petroleum Code will be presented to the ECOWAS Parliament for opinion, and in December 2022, a Supplementary Act adopting the draft regional Petroleum Code will be presented for signature of the relevant ECOWAS governing bodies (Council of Ministers or Authority of Heads of State and Government).

It is important to note that the Abidjan meeting was declared open and closed by Mr. Bayaornibè Dabire, ECOWAS Director for Energy and Mines who, in his closing remarks, commended the experts for the depth of deliberations. He further expressed satisfaction at the successful alignment of both versions of the document, a document that will promote an integrated development of the region’s petroleum sector.

It is worth recalling that the ECOWAS Commission had, in 2018, introduced the development of an ECOWAS petroleum code with a view to harmonizing policies and regulations in the hydrocarbon sector following an analytical study of petroleum policies, laws, regulatory and institutional frameworks of the petroleum sector in West Africa. The study was done in conjunction with the African Development Bank.

In broad terms, it appears that a harmonized regional text will allow regulation to evolve by considering international best practices and current matters facing the sector. (Technology, security, the environment, local content, among others); and allow for cost-effective exploration and development of hydrocarbon resources in the region. A region-wide perspective is required in this respect for greater synergy and complementarity through combined efforts. This would increase the substantial contribution of hydrocarbon resources to sustainable development in the region.