Tuesday, March 20, 2018

BBC Real Men Series Saturation Diving

Putin Believes He's Destined to Make Russia Great Again. And He's Just Getting Started

Russian President Vladimir Putin votes at a polling station during the municipal election in Moscow on September 10, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Yuri KADOBNOV


A few weeks ago, one of the members of the Russian government turned to President Putin and asked, “Vladimir Vladimirovich, well, what will happen to me after March 18?” He asked his question in the presence of other ministers, and the upcoming elections were certainly on all their minds. They were all worried about whether they would keep their positions after the election. The rest, however, knew better than to say anything.

According to my sources, Putin smiled his usual sly smile and replied, “Well, why, even I do not know what will happen to me after March 18.” Everyone there understood that the minister had made a terrible mistake. You cannot publicly demonstrate weakness, and you cannot ask Putin about your future. Not that he would give a straight answer anyway.

Putin has always known what would happen to him after March 18; his re-election for a fourth term was a given. But in the months building up to the elections, the Russian political elite was in a state of tremendous stress, waiting in horror for the day of the presidential election—not because they had doubts about the result, but because they were terrified of what would come next. Even following the attack on former military intelligence agent Sergei Skripal, the ministers were not particularly afraid of potential conflict with the West. The fundamental changes to come were far more serious.

Under the current Russian constitution, this should be Putin’s last six-year term in office. But virtually nobody in the bureaucratic elite of Russia believes that Putin will step down in 2024. “There is a misconception that Putin is tired, needs rest and wants to live the life of a billionaire,” says a former minister who still has personal access to the president. “But Putin is far from being tired. He is interested in everything and digs into every matter, paying attention to all the details. This is his lifestyle, this is who he is. He can’t imagine life without power.”

From the moment of re-election, Putin will start devising a complicated scheme of ruling the country in the future. Perhaps that means finding a loophole in the constitution, or changing it, or building a new structure of the state. All sources speaking to TIME from Putin’s inner circle are certain—at least for now—that Putin will somehow remain in power.

The ruling bureaucracy understands this means an era of turbulence is coming. The question—as the outspoken minister put it—is what this means for the rest of us.

The emergence of a new tsar

Putin has changed considerably during his time in power. He never planned to remain in the president’s office forever. During his first term as president in 2000–2004, he considered refusing to run for re-election. As I reported in my book All the Kremlin’s Men, his friends were future oligarchs amassing great fortunes as businessmen,such as Yury Kovalchuk and Gennady Timchenko, or the heads of special services such as Director of the Federal Security Service Nikolai Patrushev. For them, Putin was the guarantor of omnipotence and they put tremendous pressure upon him at that time.

During his second term, he started to think about his contribution to history and how he would be remembered. In 2008, he yielded the presidential office to Dmitry Medvedev and became prime minister, exercising control from behind the scenes. But the experience rankled him—he was particularly annoyed by how Medvedev reacted to the Arab Spring protests in 2011.

The Arab Spring reminded Putin of the so-called “color revolutions” which took place in the former USSR republics in 2003–2005. Looking at what was happening with the weakened regime of Muammar Gaddafi, Putin believed that Russia should in no circumstances support the international operation against Libya, seeing it as part of a global conspiracy in which Russia would be the next target.

A Russian soldier stands in front of poster with portraits of Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin and outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev during a rehearsal for the Victory Day parade near Moscow on April 4, 2012. The parade is dedicated to the anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
A Russian soldier stands in front of poster with portraits of Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin and outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev during a rehearsal for the Victory Day parade near Moscow on April 4, 2012. The parade is dedicated to the anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
Sasha Mordovets—Getty Images
But Medvedev backed the international operation in Libya, and declined to veto a U.N. Security Council vote authorizing it. To Putin, this illustrated how nobody could be trusted to run the country except him. He would return to the Kremlin in 2012.

From that moment on, Putin’s psychology underwent an irreversible transformation. He came to believe that he had been chosen for a special mission—to save Russia. This more than anything inspired the events of 2014, when he decided to annex the Crimean peninsula in response to a revolution in Ukraine that he believed to be part of a global anti-Russia conspiracy. The Western world reacted with dismay, and the U.S. and Europe imposed steep sanctions on Russia. But for many Russians the annexation of Crimea signified that Russia, for the first time after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, was once again a real superpower.

Ever since, making Russia great again has become a new ideology for Putin. State propaganda started to spread the idea that Putin is the only one who can restore the greatness of Russia. This concept was articulated in the most detailed way in the build-up to the presidential election, in a documentary broadcast on the state-owned TV channel Rossiya 1. The film, Valaam, about a once-neglected monastery that has been rebuilt since the collapse of the USSR with Putin’s support, conveyed the idea that Putin is a unique historical leader of Russia—able to unite fervent advocates of the Communist-era Soviet Union with those who dream of Russia’s pre-revolutionary empire, built on Orthodox Christianity.

In the most symbolic episode of the film, Putin says that there is almost no difference between the Orthodox Christianity and Communism, and that the Bolsheviks in fact reproduced the traditional dogmas that dominated the Russian Orthodox Church for centuries. He even compared the preserved corpse of Lenin, which lies in a mausoleum in Moscow’s Red Square, to the relics of the orthodox saints, demonstrating that he managed to overcome the longstanding division.

As his former propaganda chief, Vyacheslav Volodin, once put it: “Without Putin, there is no Russia.”

All the President’s men

Putin is preparing for a new era. In the past year, he has begun a process of clearing house. He has fired a number of older governors and installed young and little-known bureaucrats in their place. The most typical appointees of 2017 were the governors of Samara and Nizhny Novgorod. They are virtually indistinguishable, so much so that Russian media compare them to Agent Smith from The Matrix—the self-cloning agent of the all-powerful central computer.

These Agent Smiths represent an archetype of Putin’s new staff. They all are roughly the same age, 40 years old or a little younger; they don’t have any particular political beliefs or opinions; they are merely “technocrats” personally loyal to Putin. The president is slowly building a new generation of Russian bureaucrats in his own image. He too was once a faceless official with no ambition—until he was eventually appointed prime minister and stepped into the role of president after Boris Yeltsin’s abrupt resignation.

However, Putin’s entourage also includes true believers, so-called “orthodox Chekists” who—again like Putin—came from the KGB and built their careers under Brezhnev. Among them are Igor Sechin, chief executive of the Rosneft energy company and considered the leader of this group, and the governor of Saint Petersburg Georgy Poltavchenko.

By and large, these figures never believed in Communism, but have now come to believe in God. And if Russia is God’s chosen nation, it follows that Putin is God’s chosen leader. The president himself naturally subscribes to this view.

Together, the new technocrats and older Chekists present an existential challenge to the Russian political elite. It may surprise some, but the upper ranks of Russian politics are filled with what might be called “sleeping liberals.” These are people who came to prominence in the 1990s, during the presidency of Yeltsin. Many of them were members of the teams of democrats and reformers like former Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar or Anatoly Sobchak, one of the most prominent Russian democrats of the early 1990s. Almost all of these people are very wealthy. Their families own property abroad. They are either oligarchs themselves, or friends of oligarchs.

Many of them are convinced that Russia needs democracy, market economy, freedom of speech, fair elections and good relations with the West. They would of course never say that out loud, aware that it contradicts Putin’s stance. And while they remain silent, Putin’s coalition of young technocrats and orthodox Chekhists has been gathering enough power to keep the president in power for a generation still to come.

Members of this “sleeping” faction insist they are ready to wake up as soon as the right moment comes—but some say that time has come and gone. “It is strange that we haven’t even noticed the moment when we lost everything,” says one socially active Russian oligarch. “We didn’t start the fight for our beliefs when it was possible. Now we can do nothing. We can only watch silently as everything is falling apart.”

What Putin wants

You don’t have to look far to find evidence of what Putin will do with his next term in power. Two weeks before the presidential elections, he spoke about a new generation of Russian nuclear missiles that can overcome any kind of defense.

Ignoring tradition, the president made his address from the gigantic Moscow Manege conference center rather than the Kremlin so that Putin could proudly show his video presentation—an illustration with missiles flying toward the U.S.—to applause from Russian officials.

It was hailed around the world as a return to the Cold War, which was exactly Putin’s intention. Russia can’t pretend to be an economic superpower, but it has another asset: nuclear weapons. Putin believes there is no other way to make the West respect Russia.

From his point of view, he exhausted all the possible methods of establishing friendly relationships with Western leaders during the first 15 years of his rule—and still didn’t win their respect. He hoped that George W. Bush, Tony Blair and their successors would consider him their equal. Putin felt insulted by Bush’s attitude toward Russia, feeling he treated it as a ‘big Finland’—or as a large, but secondary European country. A return to the rhetoric of the Cold War is an opportunity to have a completely different dialog, he believes. The Americans will respect him as they did Brezhnev, and other Soviet leaders.

At the same time, Putin also hopes that the relations with the West will improve. Putin doesn’t dream of world war. He dreams of the new Yalta Conference, the peace conference that took place in Crimea in 1944 and brought Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill together. Back then the leaders of the countries that won World War II divided the world into zones of influence. Putin wants new zones of influence and new clear rules of the game. He wants the West to admit that territory that once belonged to the USSR (probably including nearby countries) should be areas of Russian responsibility. He wants to get guarantees and suitable honors.

Western leaders like Chancellor Angela Merkel and former President Barack Obama have argued that these spheres of influence no longer exist in the modern world. Putin rejects that as hypocrisy. He just needs Western leaders who are more ready to negotiate.

Supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin gather for a rally to celebrate the fourth anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea at Sevastopol's Nakhimov Square on March 14, 2018.
Supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin gather for a rally to celebrate the fourth anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea at Sevastopol's Nakhimov Square on March 14, 2018.
Yuri Kadobnov—AFP/Getty Images
Putin wants to look like a peacemaker. To do that, he’ll have to look beyond Syria. Nobody in the Kremlin believes that the U.S. will agree to have a large-scale conference about resolving Syria and be ready to meet Putin’s conditions. But his administration is ready to set other tasks for itself, closer to home.

During Putin’s next term he is prepared to resolve the problem of the Donbas, the area of Eastern Ukraine where Russia’s army has fueled a civil war since 2014. Sources in the Russian Foreign Ministry tell TIME that Putin is ready to make Eastern Ukraine an area controlled by an interim international administration—as was the case in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or Kosovo.

However, he is not ready to make concessions on the Crimean issue. “It’s only fair,” Putin responds to all foreign partners when they ask about Crimea. As far as he is concerned, the population of Crimea is satisfied with the annexation by the Russian Federation, and that means that justice has been served. Nothing needs to change.

“It’s only fair” has become Putin’s new maxim. Ten years ago, Putin would brag that he is a lawyer by training, insisting that an unconditional adherence to the letter of the law is paramount to him. He didn’t change the Russian constitution in order to be elected for a third term, yielding the presidential office to another lawyer, Medvedev, before returning to the presidential office himself. After annexing Crimea, Putin assured in a TV interview that everything was done “by the book.”

But now, Putin has changed. What he perceives as “justice” seems more important for him than the law—and that means that he can change any laws if he considers the outcome to be fair.

How exactly Putin might remain in power is not yet clear. He has six more years to do that and will not start putting any plans into action immediately—at least not until after the World Cup, which Russia is hosting this summer. And he would not hurry to share his plan with his entourage; rather, he likes surprises so the later everybody finds out, the better.

But there is no doubt that he will find a way to stay in control; he thinks it’s only fair. And time at least is on his side. In 2024, when his fourth term ends, Putin will be 72 years old. That’s the same age Donald Trump will reach this year.

Mikhail Zygar is a journalist and writer who was editor-in-chief of Dozhd, Russia’s only independent news channel. His books include All the Kremlin’s Men (2015) and The Empire Must Die (2017).

Russia Affirms Pledge to See OPEC Deal Through to the End

A strategy should be developed for period after March 2018
Energy Minister Alexander Novak says Russia is committed to seeing its pact with OPEC through to completion.

  • Moscow willing to prolong output cuts if necessary, Novak says
  • Russia open to discussing gradual phaseout when appropriate
Russia is committed to seeing its pact with OPEC through to completion, whether that means starting discussions about a phaseout at the next meeting in June or prolonging output cuts into 2019, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said.

“As soon as the ultimate goal of our deal is achieved -- which is the balancing of the market -- we will start considering gradual withdrawal,” Novak said in a Bloomberg television interview in Moscow. “That might start to happen starting with the third or fourth quarters,” and discussion of an exit strategy at the group’s next meeting in June can’t be ruled out, he said.

However, if the situation in the oil market required the deal to be extended into 2019 then Russia would agree to that, according to the minister. “We will act depending on the current situation,” he said.

President Vladimir Putin, who will rule Russia for another six years after securing a victory in Sunday’s election, has emerged as a global oil-market power broker after engineering Russia’s accord with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries over a year ago. The partners started 2018 on a high as their success in clearing a chronic glut pushed Brent crude above $70.

That surge prompted speculation that they could start discussing phasing out the production cuts before the deal expires at the end of the year. More recently, signs of market weakness have reappeared amid booming U.S. shale output, raising questions about whether the deal would need to be extended into 2019.

Novak said he isn’t worried about the growth in shale oil, nor the possibility that the U.S. could overtake Russia as the world’s largest crude producer.

Right Timing

Signals from top OPEC supplier Saudi Arabia suggest little desire to end the deal with Russia early. Producers should keep cutting for the whole year, even if that causes a small supply shortage, the kingdom’s Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said last month. The nation wants higher prices to sustain it through a period of radical change to its economy and bolster the value of its state oil company prior to an initial public offering, according to RBC Capital Markets.

When the time is right to end the production cuts, it should be done gradually, Novak said, echoing comments from his Saudi counterpart earlier this month.

After disagreeing about the strength of supply and demand late last year, both OPEC and the International Energy Agency now forecast that the production cuts will succeed in eliminating the oil-inventory surplus this year, achieving the stated goal of the deal. That success would be due in large part to the collapse in Venezuelan production amid an economic crisis, which could even put the market decisively into deficit by the end of the year, the IEA said.

Russian oil companies, including leading producers Rosneft PJSC and Lukoil PJSC, raised concerns last year over the prospect of prolonged cuts. Yet Novak insisted there’s no disagreement between the state and the industry.

“Of course we listen to their point of view,” he said. “Everything we do is a consolidated approach aimed at attaining the ultimate goal.”
An Italian court in Milan, on Monday, postponed till May 14 the start of a trial of executives of Royal Dutch Shell, ENI and former Nigerian oil minister, Dan Etete, over alleged bribery in connection with the sale of an oil bloc owned by Malabu Oil.

Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/03/taraba-killings-buhari-heads-mambilla-plateau/
An Italian court in Milan, on Monday, postponed till May 14 the start of a trial of executives of Royal Dutch Shell, ENI and former Nigerian oil minister, Dan Etete, over alleged bribery in connection with the sale of an oil bloc owned by Malabu Oil. Dan Etete: Malabu bribery trial shifted till May Dan Etete: Malabu bribery trial shifted till May The case involves the 2011 purchase by Eni and Shell of Nigeria of Nigeria’s OPL-245 offshore oilfield – one of Africa’s most valuable oil blocs – for about $1.3 billion. Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi, his predecessor, Paolo Scaroni and several officials from Eni and Shell are among those who will face the judge. Eni — also charged with corruption in Algeria in a separate trial — and Shell stand accused of handing out bribes during the 2011 purchase of OPL245, an offshore oil bloc estimated to hold 9 billion barrels of crude, for $1.3 billion. Both companies deny the charges against them. “Eni expresses its full confidence in the judicial process and that the trial will ascertain and confirm the correctness and integrity of its conduct,” the Italian firm said in a statement. The agreement allegedly saw Nigeria’s former president Goodluck Jonathan and former oil minister Etete pocket bribes, according to corruption watchdog Global Witness. “Eni and Shell closed the deal with the government without the involvement of an intermediary. The money… was deposited into an account owned by the Nigerian government,” said Eni, which has regularly reaffirmed its trust in Descalzi. Descalzi made it clear last year that Shell and Eni had not been “involved in the government’s decision on how to use the money.” Shell also said it believed the judges would conclude there was no case against them, adding “there is no place for bribery or corruption in our company.” The 2011 deal with the Nigerian government aimed to end years of litigation over the OPL245 bloc between Shell and Dan Etete’s Oil and Gas Malabu company. Etete, a former Nigerian oil minister under the former military ruler, General Sani Abacha, appropriated the bloc in 1998, selling it to Malabu, a company he secretly owned. The license was subsequently revoked by the government and then transferred to Shell and then again to Malabu, resulting in major litigation. After taking office in 2010, President Goodluck Jonathan resumed negotiations on the highly coveted bloc. According to Global Witness, the deal resulted in $1.1 billion being paid into an account in London opened by government officials — and going directly to Etete — and $210 million to the government. Email exchanges between Shell management cited by Global Witness, and seen by AFP, suggest that Shell was aware the money was likely to be funnelled to individuals, including Etete and Jonathan. “Etete can smell the money,” a Shell official wrote in 2010, while another said, “the President (Jonathan) is motivated to see 245 closed quickly –- driven by expectations about the proceeds that Malabu will receive and political contributions that will flow as a consequence.” Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the EFCC, filed corruption charges against Shell and Eni in March 2017, accusing 11 defendants, including Etete, of “official corruption” in connection with the deal. Current president, Muhammadu Buhari, has pledged to fight relentlessly against the “cancer of corruption” that plagues Africa’s largest oil producer. But in a letter leaked in February from Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami, to Buhari dating from September, the minister asked the president to interrupt the EFCC investigation. In the letter Malami expressed concern that the case did not contain enough evidence to bring the main defendants to justice and that a trial would be an embarrassment for the country and could put off potential investors. Global Witness called for justice, saying “$1.1 billion can help a lot of people in a country like Nigeria” where “80 percent of citizens live on less than two dollars a day” Milan prosecutors allege bribes were paid to win the license to explore the field, which has never entered into production. All the accused have denied any wrongdoing. A Milan judge ruled in December that the companies, along with present and past executives, would face trial.

Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/03/taraba-killings-buhari-heads-mambilla-plateau/

Monday, March 19, 2018

Increasing Capacity Positions U.S. as the Dominant LNG Exporter in the World

LNG is projected to dominate U.S. natural gas exports by the early-2020s, according to data released by the Energy Information Administration.

Export capacity has been the main driver in 2017 and is expected to remain so in 2018, with more than $88bn in LNG projects are currently planned, being built or in operation across the U.S.

The US stands to become the world’s third-largest exporter by 2020, when it’s expected to ship about 8.3 billion cubic feet a day of capacity, or 14% of the world’s share, according to Energy Aspects Ltd. After 2020, U.S. exports of LNG grow at a more modest rate as U.S.-sourced LNG becomes less competitive in global energy markets.

The House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing at the end of February on “Liquefied Natural Gas and U.S. Geopolitics” examining the impact of LNG exports on national and international security. At the close of the hearing, Sean Strawbridge, Port of Corpus Christi CEO, released the following statement:

“We applaud Subcommittee Chairman Paul Gosar for his leadership in convening this important discussion. Given the extent of our resource wealth, it makes sense for the U.Ss to meet our allies’ natural gas needs and lessen the ability of unfriendly foreign nations who use energy supply as a geopolitical weapon. Increased LNG exports will be a boon for the U.S. economy.

As the nation’s largest exporter of crude oil, we have seen the value and economic impact of energy exports. Our $327m channel expansion project — which was approved in the President’s 2019 budget — and the ongoing Harbor Bridge replacement project will position the port for additional growth in the future with LNG export facilities as well.”

He cited the work of companies like Cheniere and Tellurian who are developing projects that stand to position the U.S. as a dominant force in the global energy markets.

We hope that our policymakers continue to recognize the importance of these projects and what they represent for our future security.”

The hearing featured representatives from Cheniere Energy and Tellurian Inc. On Feb 9, 2018, Cheniere announced a pair of LNG sale and purchase agreements with China National Petroleum Corporation. The deal will result in Cheniere — in part, through Corpus Christi Liquefaction — providing 1.2 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas to the Chinese company annually.

In 2017, the U.S. became a net exporter of LNG for the first time since 1957. Earlier this month, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) found in its 2018 Annual Energy Outlook that American LNG export facilities will play a key role in meeting global demand and driving continued domestic natural gas production.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Ghana is 'about to have an oil boom'

French President Emmanuel Macron (2nd R) and Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo in Accra, Ghana, on November 30, 2017.
  • Ghana's economy is seen expanding by 8.3 percent this year, making it one of the world's fastest growing.
  • The rapid growth is due to new oil coming online.
  • Meanwhile Ghana's cocoa industry, for which it is world famous, could face headwinds due to climate change and urbanization.

Ghana, the west African nation known as one of the world's largest cocoa producers, is on course for skyrocketing economic growth this year thanks to an entirely different commodity.

Ghana is "about to have an oil boom," Imad Mesdoua, senior consultant for Africa at Control Risks, told CNBC via telephone.

"This will primarily be driven by rising oil prices, expanding production and new deals which are likely to come online in the coming six months," Mesdoua explained.

The U.K.'s Tullow Oil and Italy's Eni have both expanded their operations in the former British colony in recent years. Tullow started a multiyear drilling program on TEN, its second field in Ghana, in February of this year, having pumped its first oil from the site in 2016. Eni, meanwhile, began production on its Sankofa field in mid-2017.

Earlier in March, Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo announced that the country's economy was set to grow by 8.3 percent in 2018, above the 6.8 percent initially estimated in its annual budget. The figure is demonstrative of a significant economic uptick, given that the annual growth figure for two years earlier was just 3.6 percent according to Akufo-Addo, as reported by Reuters.

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo at a press conference in the Federal Chancellery, Berlin, Germany, on February 28, 2018.
Simone Kuhlmey | Pacific Press | LightRocket via Getty Images
Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo at a press conference in the Federal Chancellery, Berlin, Germany, on February 28, 2018.
Ghana's anticipated growth falls well above the World Bank's average for the African continent. This was calculated at 3.2 percent for 2018, as released in January of this year.

Despite the impressive figures, Philip Walker, Ghana analyst at Economist Intelligence Unit, added the caveat that the non-oil segment of Ghana's economy was seeing a "decent level of growth but not spectacular."

Gold was Ghana's top export product in 2016, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity, accounting for 42 percent of the total. This was followed by cocoa, at 18 percent and then crude oil, at 9.1 percent.

Political promise

Ghana's positive economic news is supported by the country's political backdrop.

Akufo-Addo was elected in December 2016 on an economic agenda which includes cutting corporate taxes, fighting corruption and formalizing the economy.

Farmers extract cocoa beans from the fruit on November 11, 2015, in Akyekyere, Ghana.
Melanie Stetson Freeman | The Christian Science Monitor | Getty Images
Farmers extract cocoa beans from the fruit on November 11, 2015, in Akyekyere, Ghana.
Mesdoua described Akufo-Addo's "eagerness to diversify the economy" and "intent to modernize policy making."

But despite the promising growth prospects, Ghana remains a lower middle income country. Its gross domestic product per head was $1,610 last year, according to the International Monetary Fund, below the emerging market average of $4,960.

"Ghana's democracy is a benefit to its economy," Walker said, but explained that "Ghana has had strong growth in the past but that hasn't translated into jobs." According to the Central Intelligence Agency's 2015 estimate, unemployment in the country is 11.9 percent.

Ghana is also in the final year of a $918 million IMF aid program intended to lift growth while tackling public debt and reducing inflation.

Akufo-Addo has signaled an intention to distance his country from Western aid, speaking of the need to "move Africa away from being cap in hand and begging for aid, for charity, for handouts," during a December press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in the capital Accra.

Moving on from cocoa

While Ghana's oil industry may be ascending, clouds could be on the horizon for its reputation as a world famous cocoa producer.

A farmer opens up a cocoa pod with a machete to extract the beans on November 11, 2015, in Akyekyere, Ghana.
Melanie Stetson Freeman | The Christian Science Monitor | Getty Images
A farmer opens up a cocoa pod with a machete to extract the beans on November 11, 2015, in Akyekyere, Ghana.
Ghana and neighboring Ivory Coast supply 60 percent of the world's cocoa. According to Vincent Manu, country director for Ghana at the World Cocoa Foundation, the crop is worth 25-30 percent of the country's agricultural gross domestic product and 28-30 percent of foreign exchange.

But, the industry is threatened due to urbanization in the country. "Young people are not interested because of profitability," he added.

Climate change is also playing a role. Ghana's cocoa production this season may be 700,000 tons, falling short of the forecast 850,000 tons due to poor rains, the head of the Ghana Cocoa Board told Reuters earlier this week.

Following the suggestion of diminished yields from Ghana and the Ivory Coast, cocoa prices hit more than one-year highs this week.