By Garmonyou Wilson
With 17 oil blocks on the coast of Liberia, Nigerian, American, Chinese companies among others have leased more than 60%. Each block costs the company US$200 million to rigorously drill in order to test and identify the quality of the resource.
Fifty thousand barrels of oil were found off the coast of Rivercess County a small amount that did not pass international standards to be sold on the world market, therefore though the possibility is high that Liberia will one day join other oil producing countries as for now there is still no oil in Liberia.
With the possibility being high that one day the country would boast of producing its own oil, central Government is taking measures to ensure that when or if oil is found in the country the laws that would govern it should be reflective, inclusive and developmental for the Liberian people.
About twelve months ago the House of Senate passed two Bills, The Exploration and Petroleum Bill (E&P) and the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) Bill, sending said Bills to the House of Representatives for concurrence.
The House of Representatives undertaking their own due diligence on the two draft Bills first conducted a study tour throughout the country to solicit the views and admirations of the country’s citizenry as to what they (the citizenry) wanted in a oil Bill that would meet their expectations.
The tour led to round-table discussions with stakeholders who included Government officials, International Oil Companies, civil society, interest and pressure groups and ordinary citizens.
Thirdly the Legislature conducted two days of validation or endorsement meetings with relevant stakeholders to add or subtract any portion of the draft Bills.
Making remarks at the start of activities of the national validation conference on the draft petroleum Act and the Draft NOCAL Act of 2013 Speaker of the 53rd National Legislature, Alex Tyler said that the process had led to a penultimate phase of the reform bills in the gas and petroleum sector.
Speaker Tyler said that the E&P bill deals with issues of natural gas, local content, revenue management, among others.
He said further that the natural gas component of the bill speaks to and explores the building or setting up of an infrastructure which could exploit the resource for cooking fuel, electricity, Freon and other such uses and that the local content chapter addresses itself to specific interests, rights and issues which citizens may have.
Speaker Tyler stated that the revenues management chapter treats the comprehensive issues of revenue generation, growing out of this E&P bill, and concerns itself with prudent administration of funds derived there from.
He said further that the NOCAL Bill basically separates the functions of being regulator of the sector, manager and participating as a player all at one and the same time.
He added that the new NOCAL bill seeks to decouple the crisscrossing functions of the old bill, delegating the commercial and administrative interests of the State to the Corporation, while removing the technical and regulatory aspect to the Petroleum Directory to be placed with the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy.
Also speaking at the program the Deputy Speaker of the 53rd National Legislature, Hans Barchue said that the initial law did not have some key things within it and added that at the end of the processes the country would have a law that won’t be perfect but would stand the test of time.
For his part the Vice President for Public Affairs Division at NOCAL, LaminiWaritay assured the Legislature that the Corporation will stand hand in hand with them.
The NOCAL Vice President continued that if and when commercial oil is found laws would already be in place to ensure the oil and gas revenues are shared equally.
After the validation process the two draft Bills would go on the floor of the Liberian House of Representatives for passage and subsequent signing into law by the Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.