Plan by the Weah administration to sell nine oil blocks in the country risks encountering stiff opposition here as the pressure group, Council of Patriots (CoP) organizers of the January 6, 2020 protest vows to mobilize Liberians against the sale.
CoP Chairman Henry Costa alleges that President George MannehWeah has 50 percent share in each of the blocks that could raise serious issue of conflict of interest.
He made the allegation in Monrovia on Sunday, January 12, in a news conference, while responding to claim by the Liberia Immigration Services (LIS) that he forged his travel documents to enter Liberia from abroad.
The talk show host says in coming weeks, the CoP will start a door- to- door campaign to educate Liberians about the planned deal by the government.
Recently, the Government of Liberia through the Liberia Petroleum Regulatory Authority (LPRA) announced sale of several oil blocks, beginning next licensing round.
A statement from the LPRA says the decision followed an unsuccessful ratification of negotiated petroleum sharing contracts in 2014, which climaxed the last round of bidding process.
The LPRA discloses the next round of bidding, expected to commence in April 2020, will affect blocks within Harper Basin, Maryland County, southeast Liberia.
The 2019 amendment to the New Petroleum Law triggered a re-demarcation process, resorting into nine (9) blocks within the Harper Basin and 24 blocks within the entire Liberia Basin. The Harper Basin, which covers nine blocks from LB-25 to LB33, will be tendered during the 2020 licensing round.
The statement says this is a watershed moment for Liberia and the LPRA is excited to reach an agreement with all parties, including TGS and NOCAL in promoting Liberia’s offshore average and attracting investments that would support for the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) under the leadership of President George Manneh Weah.
It notes the Government of Liberia made a shrewd and progressive decision, through a robust reform process to provide efficient institutional governance system, maximize revenue from potential petroleum resources, and promote citizens’ participation.
The LPRA continues that the reform, besides slump in oil prices and the Ebola crisis, resorted to temporary dormancy within the sector. But after the passage of the New Petroleum and Reform Law of 2014, and the setting up of the LPRA, Government is now in a position to proceed with the tendering process.
In a meeting held between the bankrupt National Oil Company of Liberia or NOCAL, LPRA and TGS (the geophysical company hosting Liberia’s offshore seismic data and rendering technical support), it was unanimously agreed that all parties have established the need for capabilities and internal mechanisms to ensure Government conducts a successful bid round to attract investors.
Meanwhile, a formal announcement on the actual licensing data in 2020 will be made shortly by President Weah, based on recommendation from the LPRA, working in concert with NOCAL and TGS.
Liberia had sold several oil blocks during the former Sirleaf administration but the ex-regime said deposits found did not meet commercial value, and the NOCAl became insolvent under Mr. Robert Sirleaf, son of Madam Sirleaf, and she took full responsibility under her watch. By Ben P. Wesee-Editing by Jonathan Browne