Liberia: Foreign Minister Signs Agreement With Cote d'Ivoire for the Supply of Petroleum Products - Urges Local Importers Not to Panic

Monrovia — Liberia's Minister of Foreign Affairs has taken a step to help the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC) mitigate possible future shortage of petroleum products on the market, hence entering into a bilateral cooperative agreement with neighboring Ivory Coast.

Foreign Minister Dee-Maxwell Kemayah signed the agreement on behalf of the Liberian government early this week with the Ivorian Minister of Mines, Petroleum and Energy, Thomas Camara.

The Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company, Marie Urey Coleman was also present at the signing in Abidjan, the Ivorian capital.

The agreement is a three-year bilateral cooperative agreement that would see Liberia benefit from the supply of petroleum products from Ivory Coast and this would complement the shipments of local importers.

Speaking during the signing ceremony in Abidjan at the offices of the Ministry of Mines, Petroleum and Energy, Minister Kemayah said the reason for the visit is to negotiate with their Ivoirian neighbor for them to supply the Liberian markets with petroleum products, particularly gasoline, diesel and bitumen, which will be affordable, accessible and available at all times throughout the Republic of Liberia without shortage.

Minister Kemayah used the occasion to pay tribute to the importers of petroleum products in Liberia, noting that the Bilateral Cooperation agreement signed between the Government of Liberia and the Government of Cote D'Ivoire will in no way put the importers out of business.

Minister Kemayah explained that this bilateral cooperation agreement is a breakthrough for the government of Liberia to meet the bread-and-butter issue in the country, stating that a constant supply of petroleum products at an affordable price will further mitigate the prices of other commodities on the Liberian markets.

Minister Kemayah said the Bilateral Cooperation agreement is pursuant to overarching desire and vision of President George Manneh Weah to transform the lives of the Liberian people in line with the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).

Minister Kemayah said he initiated discussions in April of this year, with the Foreign Minister of Cote D'Ivoire, Madam Kandia K. Camara for this agreement which is a non-upfront-cash bilateral cooperation agreement.

This means, the Ivoirian company representing the government of Cote D'Ivoire, will supply the petroleum products to the government of Liberia through the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC). Sales will be made and thereafter payments done to the government of Cote D'Ivoire through the designated operator of the Ivorian government.

He commended Madam Camara for her role played so far in the Bilateral Cooperation Agreement.

Minister Kemayah pointed out that the agreement met the full blessings of both Presidents of the Liberia and Cote D'Ivoire, President George Manneh Weah, and President Alassane Ouattara of Cote D'Ivoire.

For his part, Minister Camara used the occasion to introduce the major players on the Ivoirian side, who will directly interact with their Liberian counterparts in implementing this Bilateral Cooperation Agreement.

Minister Camara said the bilateral cooperation agreement, which is signed for three years is renewable at the end of its expiration date, noting that Cote D'Ivoire is well prepare to honor their part of the agreement to supply petroleum products to Liberia.

Minister Camara commended the Liberia Foreign Minister Ambassador Kemayah for initiating the "brilliant ideas" for the two sisterly countries to cooperate in this great venture that will mutually benefit the two peoples, noting that this will further strengthen the bilateral ties between the two countries in the sub-region.

According to Minister Kemayah and Minister Camara, they were able to link the two companies to discuss modalities on how to kick start the full implementation of the bilateral cooperation agreement in the soonest of time.

According to the agreement, before the supply of petroleum products to Liberia from Côte d'Ivoire, a joint committee will be set up to study the modalities of carrying out the operation.

"The joint committee thus constituted will be responsible for dealing with the following points relating to the project for the supply of petroleum products to Liberia from Côte d'Ivoire:

The demand for petroleum products from Liberia; the transport, reception and storage infrastructures; the legal and contractual framework; the financing mechanisms; and, the project implementation schedule.

"Within the joint committee, the following structures are designated as focal points to represent the parties: the Ivorian Refining Company (La SIR) and the Multinational Bitumen Company (la SMB) for Côte d'Ivoire; and Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) for Liberia.

"This Agreement shall enter into force on the date of signing by the Parties for a period of three (3) consecutive years with the option to renew after expiration. This Agreement may be amended on the written proposal of either Party and by mutual agreement.

In February and March last year, Liberia experienced an acute shortage of petroleum products leading to long queues at filling stations in and around the capital, Monrovia. The situation led to price doubling.

An error in the accounting of fuel supplies in state-run tanks left Liberia with 1.1 million gallons of fuel this week, a fraction of the 4.4 million that the government thought it had, the then Minister of Commerce and Industry, Wilson Tarpeh told journalists.

To mitigate the situation, the government intervened through the importation of petroleum products from neighboring Sierra Leone to complement the limited supply available at the time.

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