Reforming Liberia’s Oil Sector
-LPRA Unveils Plans
Public confidence in the Liberian oil and gas sector has since eroded from the day former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf failed to curtail corruption but only took responsibility for the gross mismanagement of proceeds generated from the sector when her beloved son, Robert Sirelaf who is now reportedly living in extravagance was presiding over the lucrative public entity. The National Oil Company (NOCAL) shortly went bankrupt in less than three years following the discovery, exploration and commercialization of the oil and gas products under the Sirleaf regime.
But according sources close to highest authorities in government, plans are underway to make a radical cleaning up in the polluted oil sector so that proceeds generated would not land in private pockets as confirmed by the Director General of the Liberia Petroleum Regulatory Authority (LPRA), Mr. Archie N. Donmo.
Addressing the Liberian media recently in Monrovia, Donmo disclosed that President George Manah Weah is much concerned about the cleaning up exercise, adding that although Liberia is in a desperate need to discover commercially viable quantities of oil, it was important that the country would not lose sight of the attendant consequences that may evolve when the right policies, laws and regulations are not developed and adhered to.
The LPRA Boss told reporters that his team has been taking several prudent measures to address the situation in adherence to the President’s determination to ameliorate the oil and gas sector.
As part of the reform measures, Donmo disclosed that the LPRA is expected to completely take over the functions NOCAL in keeping with the Act creating the LPRA, adding that they are set to build a viable and successful oil and gas program by improving governance and transparency of equity or shares participation of all Liberians in keeping with Section 78 of the Petroleum exploration and production regulation Reform laws of 20I4.
The LPRA Boss said, the transfer of NOCAL’s functions to the LPRA was ongoing since it entails the transfer of all regulatory functions while NOCAL will be left with the task of focusing on improving the sector’s general capabilities and promoting government’s interests, so as to allow the LPRA to focus on the activities of off-shore acreages.
He noted that Pres. Weah has however challenged the Chief Executive officer (CEO) of NOCAL and the Director General of LPRA to engage international oil companies, and other global partners to build an economically successful and sustainable oil and gas sector that will maximize government’s revenue intake, ensure environmental sustainability and the equitable participation of all Liberians.
Meanwhile, the LPRA Boss clarified that it was an erroneous report that Pres. Weah has bought shares in some of the oil blocks put on sale, arguing that if such was the case, then who sold the shares to the President.
He narrated that it takes time to complete the licensing process and approval by National Legislature to encourage transparency and accountability.
“It takes 2-3 months for evaluation, and another 2 months for contract negotiation between LPRA and successful bidders’’, adding that those spreading lies are completely ignorant of the processes involved in acquiring oil blocks.