NOCAL Spends Huge Amounts…On Scholarships, Others

By Melissa Chea-Annan

As part of efforts to provide sound education for Liberians, it has been disclosed that the National Oil Company in Liberia (NOCAL) is poised to spending over US$M 3 on the scholarship program in 2013/2014, which constitutes a 100% increment over the amount spent on such overseas scholarship grantees in 2010/2011 academic year.

The disclosure was made on Monday in Monrovia by Dr. Randolph A.W.K. McClain, president and Chief Executive Officer of NACOL when he gave an update on activities of the institution. Mr. McClain boasted that NOCAL’s scholarship program is certainly one of the entity’s flagship projects in that especially under his administration, the scholarship program has been expanded exponentially, and has become much better structured than before.

According to him, in the early stage, only modest attempts were made in this direction, unlike the past where it was restricted in terms of its beneficiary spread and limited number involved, adding “NOCAL has not only significantly increased the number of scholarship beneficiaries, but has now established clear cut and appropriate criteria for granting scholarships.”

The NOCAL boss indicated that beneficiaries of the scholarship program which started with four students between 2010/2011 have increased tremendously with beneficiaries drawn from every county. “Indeed, from a small number of four students granted NOCAL scholarship to study abroad between 2010/2011, and with 15 beneficiaries in 2011/2012, the present NOCAL leadership is proud to state that in 2012/2013, a total of 20 students benefitted from the scholarship scheme,” Mr. McClain stated in a rather relaxed mood.

According to him, the entity is processing 33 beneficiaries for the current 2013/2014 period, and they are slated to attend various Graduate schools overseas for academic year 2013/2014.

The NOCAL boss recalled that from an expenditure of US$ 300,000 in 2010/2011, NOCAL is expected to spend over US$M 3 on the scholarship program in 2013/2014, constituting a 100% increment over the amount spent on such overseas scholarship grantees in 2010/2011 academic year.

Mr. McClain indicated that unlike in the past when the scholarship program was randomly implemented, it is now focused and tailored to the needs of the Petroleum industry, especially in regard to specialization, with students studying for post graduate degrees in oil and gas related disciplines.

According to him, those universities, including Texas A & M; Southern New Hampshire University and University of Houston Law Center based in the in the USA; University of Westminster and University of Dundee, in the United Kingdom; and Heriot-Watt University, Dubai, United Arab Emirate (UAE) are chosen to train the students in regard to the disciplines and courses they are specializing in.

In a related development, Mr. McClain explained that NOCAL is concurrently supporting 1,513 scholarship beneficiaries locally at various institutions, including universities in the country and studying in various disciplines relevant to the development not only of the oil and gas industry, but also of the country as a whole.

Mr. McClain said his administration has also introduced vocational schooling as part of its social corporate responsibility, with nearly 1,150 vocational students benefitting from the entity’s vocational scholarship program at various institutions, including the Liberia Opportunity Industrialization Center in Monrovia and Sinjie; William V. S. Tubman Vocational School in Harper; and Salvation Army Vocational Institution.

According to him, most of the beneficiaries have completed courses in carpentry, masonry, tailoring, plumbing, and that through this effort, NOCAL has invested in many of the young people by lifting them from a state of hopelessness and idleness, to a state where they have become productive and begun benefitting not only themselves and their respective communities, but the country as a whole.

In another development, Mr. McClain disclosed that NOCAL has contributed nearly US$ M13 to the National Budget in 2012/2013, while in 2013/2014, NOCAL has thus far contributed over US$M 14. According to him, before the onset of the ongoing sector reform, an agreement was reached with Exxon Mobil on Block 13, netting for the government more than US$M 45 in 2012/2013 fiscal period. “This deal has also been described by industry experts as one of the best ever in the history of frontier countries,” the NACOL boss boasted.