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LPRA, NOCAL hold roundtable on oil

The Liberia Petroleum Regulatory Authority or LPRA and the National Oil Company of Liberia kickoff a three-day roundtable here on pre-bid and Gas Regulations and Strategies. The consultative meeting brings together government officials, non-stakeholders and the National Legislature.

LPRA Director-General Archie N. Donmoe, says the next bid-round will be launched in April 2020. He says they are passionate about ensuring that Liberia benefits from its potential oil and gas resources, but this is only possible when government grants licenses to intentional and local companies to explore for oil.

Director Donmoe further explains when a country has 33 blocks unencumbered and unlicensed as in the case of Liberia, chances of finding oil is impossible, noting the country’s entire offshore acreage has been predominantly vacant for over five (5) years.

According to him, all institutional, regulatory and policy frameworks have been designed, so it is only prudent as a country to begin to utilize this opportunity of licensing blocks for oil and gas exploration, an imperative to making any commercial or geological discovery.

“Let me assure you that the LPRA will operate within the confines of the law and under the principle of expediency to promote Liberia’s undiscovered assets. These consultations demonstrate our willingness to operate in an inclusive, transparent and accountable manner as required by law. It’s my hope that at the consultations, your valuable contributions will enrich these documents in anticipation of successfully delivering the bid rounds”, he underscores.

A statement read on behalf of the President of NOCAL, Atty. Siafuah M. Gray, notes in the past months, institution has worked closely with the Regulator to establish all data requirements and technical components for getting this process started, saying they are at the point of establishing clear rules and regulations for the process to begin. Attorney Gray notes the ongoing occasion is in fulfillment of the New Petroleum Law of 2014.

She discloses government has identified a working petroleum system which is a good sign that there is hydrocarbon present offshore Liberia, and says with the right amount of work put into this process, they will eventually make a commercial find, adding, that’s the reason all is being done to change country’s exploratory story.

The Deputy Minister for Energy at the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy George L. Gontor stresses citizens’ participation as key in the process, and the meeting should prioritize interest of the people and country at large. He urges both the LPRA and NOCAL to continue such meetings especially, in rural areas that are concerned with these matters.

The Vice President for Technical Services at NOCAL, Dr. Lester Tenny, explains the oil image had been destroyed by series of controversies in the past, adding the oil sector is very sensitive, and management of information is as important as the outcome. “Liberia does have oil; the fingerprints are there, we just need to discover the oil.”

He vows NOCAL will continue to provide financial assistance where possible to the Regulators, but also calls on the Ministry of Finance to financially support the process, underscoring, to realize the outcome of a bid round, the regulator must be sufficiently, financially supported, and that in the absence of finance, all the activities that will give rise to the bid-round will be delayed.

Dr. Teeny continues regulators are generating money for the country, so they need to be financially supported. “Oil money is not thousands of dollars; they are millions.”

Representative Vicent Willie of District #4 Grand Bassa County, who chairs the Committee on Natural Resources says the Legislature is willing to help the process in any way, but regulators should follow the law especially, the new amended petroleum law, without which support would withheld.

He says Regulators should focus on local content, emphasizing that Liberians should not be spectators in their own economy and Regulators should also focus on the environment, which is key in the process.

Monsterrado County District #15 Representative Abu Bana Kamara, Chair on the Committee on Hydrocarbon, says lawmakers are prepared to support these sectors by ensuring the right thing is done. By Ethel A. Tweh–Editing by Jonathan Browne

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