FrontPageAfrica (Monrovia)

12 August 2014

Liberia's National Oil Company Denies Selling Oil Blocks

Monrovia — The National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) says oil blocks that are now out for international competitive bidding, are neither being sold nor auctioned contrary to media reports.

"To suggest that the blocks are being sold, presupposes that Liberia looses ownership. That is not the case," NOCAL said in a statement, adding "the Liberian State owns the oil under the seabed."

NOCAL is instead holding a bid round for old acreage which includes LB-6, LB-7, LB-16, and LB-17, which were made available under earlier bid rounds held years ago under the 2002 Petroleum Act.

Production Sharing Contracts (PCSs) for LB-6 and LB-7 were awarded and negotiated but never fully executed. "In other words, no legally binding PSCs as in accordance with the Laws of Liberia for these two blocks were given," the company noted in the statement.

Regarding LB-16 and LB 17, NOCAL recalled, PCSs were held by the International Oil Companies (IOCs), which decided to relinquish the blocks. The statement pointed out that it is standard petroleum industry practice for relinquished blocks to be made available for oil companies.

NOCAL said further that it is not opening a bid round for new acreage for a bid round (LB-1 through LB-5, LB-18 through LB-30. These blocks, the company said will remain untouched until the new Petroleum Law is passed and a determination made regarding how to proceed in line with the new law.

The National Legislature put a hold on all new blocks from being offered for licensing by the new petroleum law is passed. 'New' blocks refer to blocks that have never had a Production Sharing Contract attached to it, whether awarded or signed into law.

"It is a good for the country that these blocks are being put out for lease," NOCAL President and CEO, Dr. Randolph McClain said in a statement, adding, "doing so will generate more interest and help generate the revenue government so urgently needs for economic, human, social and other development programs.

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