Capitol Hill appears to be firm in fostering its current agenda on the Liberian oil and gas sector. Following a meeting last week at the Capitol Building, the Joint Legislative Committee of the House of Representatives discovered that certain vital provisions of the 2002 Petroleum Law of Liberia were not followed.
According to members of the committee, the discovery was a result of a thorough scrutiny and in-depth analysis of some current oil contracts and their addendums entered into by the Government of Liberia (GOL) through t National Oil Company (NOCAL).
The discovery of these reported inadequacies prompted a decision by the lawmakers for a review of such provisions contained in the concerned PSCs. These provisions include, among others, the government’s Free 20% Equity Participation, 10% Liberian Participation and 12-15% Royalty as enshrined in the Law.
The decision of the House followed a compliant submitted to the House’s Plenary by Representative. J. Emmanuel Nuquay of Margibi County on February 13, 2012 which flagged the risk of the Government of Liberia not realizing US$27.0m in revenues upon the sale of Offshore Oil Block 13. Also included in the complaint was failure of the National Oil Company of Liberia or NOCAL to execute the mandate of the Legislature by not completing negotiations of said oil block, thus creating budgetary deficit.
The committee called for the enactment of a Comprehensive National Content Law to take care of all aspects of local content, including the sole rights of Liberians to provide goods and services to international oil companies, as well as the rights of Liberians to own shares in oil companies, among others.
This concern was initially welcomed when it was raised by the honorable men and women on Capitol Hill. In supporting this cause undertaken by the House, the issue of sincerity on the part of the Representatives was of serious concern to those who supported their move. With news of the alleged visit of some of the Representatives to Ghana at the invitation of one of the oil companies in contention for oil Block 13, Liberians who initially supported the Lawmakers now have reasons to question the sincerity of the right-wingers of the Capitol Building.
If and only if selfishness or personal benefits are at the center of the argument over block 13, there should be no reason why the “interest of the Liberian people” should be used as a spring board by members of the House of Representatives. In view of the foregoing, it is important to raise serious eye-brows at the news of the visit of a few lawmakers to Ghana.
In so doing, their visit, if it’s actually true, must be investigated and the result made public because the people of Liberia, whose interests the honorable men and women are representing on Capitol Hill, are very eager to know.