17 October 2010

Liberia: Chevron Takes Another Step in Investment

Photo: Chevron
A Chevron oil rig to be deployed off Angola.

Monrovia — A team from the Chevron Corporation has concluded a fact-finding mission in Liberia, following up its sealing of a three-year oil exploration deal with the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Walt Maguire, manager of policy, government and public affairs for Chevron, told reporters last week that the U.S.-based multinational plans to open an office in Liberia this year and will begin exploration activities in the third quarter of 2011. The company is currently making preparation to drill its first offshore well.

The deal, which was announced in August and later ratified by the Liberian National Legislature, is potentially worth U.S.$10 billion, according to the U.S. Embassy in Liberia. Chevron has a 70-percent interest in three offshore, deepwater concessions.

Maguire said the operation was "promising" and that Liberians could reap benefits from Chevron's corporate social responsibility efforts, focusing on health, education and economic development. The fact-finding team was in Liberia to explore public programs Chevron could support, but Maguire said it was premature to discuss details.

He said the investment climate and reforms taking place under the Johnson Sirleaf government were "excellent" and attractive to Chevron.

"The government is dedicated to making sure the people benefit. We would not be coming into Liberia all alone," he said last week. He was referring to other multinational companies that Liberia has attracted since Johnson Sirleaf came to power after 25 years of disruption and civil war.

Since taking office in 2006, Johnson Sirleaf has vowed to fight corruption, and pledged that Liberia will use its natural resources for growth and development in an aim to avoid the problems that have plagued many oil- and mineral-rich nations. She has said that Chevron's presence in Liberia "will send a big signal" that the nation is a place that investors should take seriously.

"These licenses are on trend with new deepwater Cretaceous discoveries in the region and will expand our exploration portfolio in offshore West Africa, which has delivered significant production from several basins," said Ali Moshiri, president of Chevron Africa and Latin America exploration and production, in statement in September.

Exploration activities by other companies off Liberia's shores have raised further hopes for oil. If successful, Liberia would join the growing ranks of West African neighbors in the petroleum business.

Chevron is active in more than 180 countries. In Africa, the company is involved in exploration and production activities in Chad, Angola, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Republic of the Congo. Chevron produced a net average of more than 430,000 barrels of oil equivalent in these countries last year.

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