Liberia’s Petroleum Policy Consultations starts

By Peterking Quaye – Monrovia, Liberia – An event for the nationwide consultation that came off last Saturday and was witnessed by a cross section of guests plus nationwide consultations on a draft Petroleum Policy. The event took place at the Monrovia City Hall.

Nationwide Consultations on a draft Petroleum PolicyLiberia’s discovery of oil has come at a time when the national quest to see its citizen benefit is assured and the nation peace and security also protected. The consultation was expected to start this Monday with a nationwide tour to various counties in the country to solicit the views of citizens on the oil find and how revenue generated will be utilized.

Speaking at the launch Dr. Randolph McClain, President of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), described the initiative as one that will improve the Governance of Liberia’s oil sector, with the core objective of enhancing the operating environment and creating exciting new commercial opportunities in Liberia that would impact the Lives of the People of Liberia. Dr. McClain observed that Africa is littered with too many tragic stories of failure in the oil sector.

The resource-curse, he pointed out, afflicts the African continent more than anywhere else, but insisted that the trend must increase Liberia’s determination to be different. “That means we must channel oil so that all Liberians are lifted on the rising tide, and no one, absolutely no one, is left stranded,” the Liberian National Oil Company’s boss said.

Dr. McClain emphasized that the dream can only be realized with the adoption of sound petroleum policies that will govern the sector. One of the company’s major fronts for change he said is reform of the sector as a whole. The task, he maintained is an absolute must.

NOCAL, the Chief Executive Officer explained, is coordinating an extensive governance reform program that will formulate a new upstream Exploration and Production (E&P) policy, create a new Exploration and Production Petroleum Law and regulations, guided by the new  policy, and create a new model Production Sharing contract.

The objective, he said is “to bring our policies and laws up to date and into line with best practice for oil governance.” The reforms, through a cross-governmental committee led by NOCAL, the Hydro-Carbon Technical Committee, the President and CEO added, will also address some of the key policy questions facing Liberia, particularly regulation, state participation, government take, local content and wealth creation. “We aim to accomplish these reforms by early to mid-2013, so that we may open a new bid round for the next set of blocks,” he disclosed.

The goal of the reform, he emphasized is to create an environment that will provide for stable and profitable exploration and production, “but at the same time, lay the foundation for transparent and sustainable wealth creation for our citizens.”

He urged citizens across the country, and in the Diaspora, to get involved in the consultations to “fashion the requisite policies and laws that will help our Country to optimize the benefits from the hydrocarbon sector.

During the consultations, inputs and feedbacks from Liberians across the country and in the Diaspora will be generated on the following thematic issues contained in the current base draft policy paper: Resource ownership and maritime boundary; Legal framework and institutional oversight; State participation and fiscal regime; Revenue management and state-NOC financial and tax arrangements; Transparency and accountability; Licensing and contracting; Work programs and operations and Local content, including Liberia Petroleum Refining Company’s Manager Director T. Nelson Williams, representing the Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, senior members of the Board of Directors of NOCAL, Labor Minister Varbah Gayflor, a member of the Hydro-carbon Technical Committee, Cllr. Betty Larmin Blamo, who deputized for the Minister of Lands, Mines & Energy, the National Investment Commission, members of Civil Society Organizations, LEITI’s Executive of Director, Samson Togba and representatives of youth groups.

Several groups comprising members of the Hydro-carbon Technical committee and Civil Society Organizations have been divided into seven teams for the consultations which will include Town hall meetings and round table discussions.

The teams will visit all political sub-divisions of the country to seek the input of citizens on the reform process of the sector.