More than 10 years ago I had my first foray into Ghana, then the up-and-coming oil and gas producer. Their first fields had gone into production and I was assured by officials from GNPC that Ghana would not repeat the mistakes of its brethren in Africa and not flare gas. It would use the gas commercially or export it. Nice words – sure enough, soon the first flare ignited and it has burned ever since. Plus many more. Same thing for the resource curse. The only way to keep the ghosts at bay is privatizing the entire resources industry in the way the US has done. The landowner has the rights to the subsoil. As soon as bureaucracies run it, the curse builds up. Even Norway is in its cold, clam embrace. Think Norway without oil and fish – is there anything that remains?
This tiny nation on the north coast of South America is about to become the world’s newest petrostate—and potentially the richest.