Within a few weeks Virginia Evelyn Palmer, a veteran of the energy game in Africa, will arrive in Accra, where American oil firms are key players.
Africa Intelligence in publication dated today, Wednesday, 16th March 2022
In May, Virginia E. Palmer, the acting head of the US State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources, will begin her new job as ambassador to Ghana, replacing Stephanie Sullivan, who was appointed in 2018 and who will return to Washington until her retirement in two years.
Stephanie had strongly endeared herself to Ghanaians and managed to stay away from the usual political controversies in country.
She was seen actively participating in many of the country’s activities including cleaning up Ghana’s beaches.
Palmer’s arrival, which follows the Senate’s early February confirmation of her nomination, will come as good news for oil firms in Ghana such as Kosmos Energy.
An Africa energy expert, Palmer has held senior posts at the energy bureau since 2019, where she was appointed acting assistant secretary last January, to bridge the gap left by the departure of Francis Fannon.
She has also served as ambassador to Malawi (2015-2019) and deputy chief of mission in South Africa (2011-2014).
During her confirmation hearing before the Senate’s foreign affairs committee in September, Palmer said she planned to use her energy bureau experience to “help Ghana deal with significant energy sector challenges, and opportunities”.
A few months ago, the State Deparment had to intervene with the Ghanaian authorities to convince them to allow the sale of Occidental Petroleum’s (Oxy) assets in Jubilee and TEN to Kosmos Energy.
Since the sale involved two US firms, Oxy and Kosmos, after Oxy bought out another Texas firm, Anadarko, Washington could not understand why the government was blocking it.
The presence of a competing bid from local company Springfield Energy, which is close to the Ghanaian presidency, is believed to have been the reason for Accra’s procrastination.
The Oxy-Kosmos deal was finally accepted in October 2021 (AI, 22/11/21).
Virginia Evelyn Palmer is an American diplomat and a former United States ambassador to Malawi.
She was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate, beginning the assignment in January 2015.
She is also the nominee of President Joe Biden to serve as US Ambassador to Ghana.