The NEWS (Monrovia)

Liberia: 'Speak Facts About Oil Sector'

The President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) Dr. Randolph McClain has cautioned Liberians to speak facts and refrain from falsehood as regard the oil & gas reforms processes of the country.

Dr. McClain said the oil & gas sector is one that all Liberians must remain concerned and interested about, but should do so with facts. He said while NOCAL encourages views on the reform of the sector, NOCAL will reject and frown on views and observations that are not grounded on available facts.

CEO McClain made the statement at a news conference in Monrovia Monday. He indicated that the news conference was a quarterly commitment on progress made regarding the Oil & gas reform of the country.

Dr. McClain explained that his management team has been working tirelessly in navigating what he calls complex challenges facing the sector.

He pointed out that NOCAL has since accelerated it programmatic and developmental strides across all levels of the sector in regard to projects and activities that are touching the lives of ordinary Liberians in a very meaningful way.

The NOCAL CEO named the institution of the Hydro-Carbon Technical Committee that produced a draft national petroleum policy with the assistance of experts and taken to the people through a nationwide consultation organized by the Legislature and NOCAL as one of the reforms in the sector. He noted that the nationwide oil consultation sought to amend provisions of the NOCAL act.

He also named the establishment of a safety, health and environment standards that seek to provide safety and protective environment for Liberians working with companies in the oil & gas sector.

He said NOCAL has for the first time established concrete and progressive standards against potentially catastrophic hazard like oil spill and other environmental damaging effect, during exploration and drilling.

However, he said that international oil companies are obliged to follow the safety standards while operating in the country, adding that Liberians can count on NOCAL to seek their collective interest in said regard.

"By these proactive standards, International Oil Companies (IOCs) are obliged to strictly adhere to these safety measures if they are to do oil business in the country because we at NOCAL, the safety, health and environment of Liberia and its people are more of concern than the anticipated millions of United States dollars from oil companies," McClain indicated.

He revealed that prior to the onset of the ongoing sector reform, the new leadership at NOCAL, and the Negotiating Team of the HTC, reached an agreement with Exxon Mobil on Block 13, netting for the government more than US$45 million in 2012/2013 fiscal period. The deal, he said, has also been described by industry experts as "one of the best ever in the history of frontier countries.

Additionally, he noted that NOCAL contributed nearly US$13 million to the National Budget in 2012/2013, while in 2013/2014, NOCAL has contributed over US$14 million.

Commenting on the corporate social relations, he said NOCAL management inherited low cost housing facilities in Voinjama, Lofa County, Sanniquellie, Nimba County, and Buchanan, Grand Bassa County that were not habitable.

On issues of scholarship, he said from a small number of four students granted NOCAL scholarship to study abroad between 2010/2011 and with 15 beneficiaries in 2011/2012, and the present NOCAL leadership is proud to state that in 2012/2013, a total of 20 students benefitted from the scholarship scheme, and for the current 2013/2014 period, the entity is processing 33 beneficiaries who are slated to attend various Graduate schools overseas for academic year 2013/2014.

He maintained that from an expenditure of Three Hundred Thousand United States dollars in 2010/2011, NOCAL is poised to spend over three million United States dollars on the scholarship program in 2013/2014, something that constitute a hundred percent increment over the amount spent on such overseas scholarship grantees in 2010/2011 academic year.

"Again 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 including Petroleum Geosciences, Petroleum Law and Petroleum Accounting/Finance", CEO McClain stressed.

At the same time, McClain said that NOCAL is concurrently supporting One Thousand Five Hundred and Fifteen scholarship beneficiaries locally attending various institutions 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.

The students, he said, can be found at various institutions of learning, including the University of Liberia, Cuttington University, African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZU), United Methodist University (UMU), African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU); Stella Maris Polytechnic; Smythe Institute of Management & Technology; Lofa, Grand Bassa and Leigh-Sherman Community Colleges.

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