The Informer (Monrovia)

Liberia: AP, Nocal Silent On Oil Discovery in Liberia

Authorities at the African Petroleum-Liberia (APL) and the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) are tightlipped on the recent announcement of oil discovery by APL in the Liberia.

In February 2012, African Petroleum announced that it had made a significant oil discovery in Block LB-09.

According to APL, the Narina-1 well was drilled by the Maersk Deliverer to a total depth of 4,850 meters (15,912 feet), in a water depth of 1,143 meters (3,750 feet) taking 43 days for completion. The well encountered a total of 32 meters (105 feet) of net oil pay in two zones: 21 meters (69 feet) in the Turonian; and 11 meters (36 feet) in the Albian. Oil was found in good quality reservoirs in a Turonian submarine fan system that extends across a prospective area of 250 sq km.

Shortly after the APL pronouncement, the National Oil Company of Liberia called on the company to manage expectations and carry on further test to determine the viability of the discovery made in Narina-1 well.

Since then, APL and NOCAL have refused to make further comment on the discovery, thus leaving the public in doubt for almost a year. What makes matter worse is the news that the company has begun scaling-down its employees in Liberia.

According to one of the APL employees, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the company has already terminated the services of the Environmental Manager, bookkeeper and logistic officer, amongst others.

When contacted, the Country Manager of APL, Mr. Renny James declined commenting on the matter, but rather referred this writer to Mr. Pierre Railland of AP London Office for further comments.

However, Mr. James in passing, had these few words to say, "Scaling down employees is normal in the oil and gas industry. Once a company has achieved its goals, the number of employees is reduced because their services would no longer be needed."

He noted that Liberia has an involving economy, and as a Liberian, he would never work for any entity that would ruin the fragility of the state. He said APL is opened for business and that the company has no intention of leaving the country.

All efforts to contact Mr. Pierre Railland of APL London office did not materialize as his phone rang endlessly without response.

African Petroleum spudded its third well, Bee-Eater-1 on January 4, 2013. On February 20, 2013, the Company announced a discovery at the Bee Eater-1 well. In line with pre-drill expectations, 48 meters of oil bearing Turonian sandstone was found, however, reservoir permeability over the hydrocarbon bearing section of the well were lower than anticipated and further investigation is underway. The extension of the Turonian oil play from the Narina-1 discovery towards Bee Eater-1 was viewed as a significant milestone in determining the oil-bearing part of the 300 sq km Turonian fan.

Bee Eater-1 was additionally designed to target the potential of two deeper prospective zones in the Cenomanian and the Albian. Oil bearing sandstone was encountered in both zones, and no oil water contacts or water bearing sands were found.

The Bee Eater-1 well has proven prospective hydrocarbon systems in the Turonian, Cenomanian and Albian. African Petroleum will incorporate the well results into the prospect portfolio for the Liberia License Blocks, and prepare follow on drilling locations," the CEO Statement concluded.

Shortly after the announcement, NOCAL, the industry's regulatory body, promptly issued a statement following the AP release that further testing was needed to verify if the Bee Eater-1 Well was commercially viable.

A joint press release was later issued by NOCAL and APL stating that although the results of the Bee Eater well were encouraging, further testing would be needed before determining the well's viability.

Liberians began speculating if NOCAL was trying to hide oil discovery from the Liberian people. The press began speculating a riff between NOCAL and APL caused by the un-authorized APL announcement. FrontPage Africa quoted a petroleum expert who explained the definition of "mean un-risked prospective resources" and stating that it did not mean AP had discovered 840MMstb proven, but that if they continue to explore, they MAY find oil and it MAYBE 840MMstb. What FPA understood as meaning, "smoke and mirrors."

Karl Thomson, CEO of APL, bragging in a February 2013 press release, said "2012 had been a very successful year for the company with the Narina-1discovery in Liberia and the expansion of the exploration portfolio with the addition of five more exploration blocks in Senegal, Sierra Leone and Cote d'Ivoire. "We are finalizing negotiations with PetroChina for an investment up to 20% equity in Block LB-09 in Liberia and are confident we will reach agreement shortly," FPA.

Liberia's House of Representatives, in collaboration with NOCAL concluded a nationwide consultation on the draft Petroleum (Exploration and production) Act of 2013 and the draft NOCAL Act of 2013.

A national conference is scheduled for January 5, 2014 at which time expects, government officials, citizens and the general public will be invited to provide suggestions, correction and comments to help the legislature enact laws that will develop the country's emerging hydrocarbon industry, House Spokesperson, Isaac Red told Capitol Building reporters.

Speaker Alex Tyler disclosed at a news conference that the concerns of the House of Representatives is that the company is doing appraisal to determine the amount of oil that was discovered in the Enter-1 well.

When contacted, is the acting head of communications at NOCAL, Mr. Cyrus W. Badio also declined commenting on the matter, and said NOCAL is focused on the nationwide oil consultation and was not in the position to comment on the APL oil discovery. Author's contact, 231886270297, email:

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