The Liberian Legislature has extended its Special Session by one week, upon a request from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on the pending submission of four undrilled offshore petroleum exploration Blocks— LB-6, LB-7, LB-16 and LB-17 – the leases of which she wants to conclude before the lawmakers depart for their annual break.
Members of the Liberian Senate and the House of Representatives, unanimously and separately, agreed with the extension yesterday, which political pundits have described as a ‘mutual agreement’ because there wasn’t a Certificate of Extension for the extra one week.
The Liberian Legislature was expected to end its 3rd working Session today, December 12, and proceed on Annual or Constituency Break, previously known as Agriculture Break, according to an earlier Certificate of Extension which took effect November 12.
However, the Liberian leader, in her communication to the two Houses, informed the Legislature that for the past two months, the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) has been concluding negotiations for the exploration of the final oil blocks that were initiated under the 2002 petroleum law with “certain international oil companies.”
“We are nearing completion of the process, but need more time in order to make a full submission to you,” the President wrote. “I therefore request your consideration of a delay in the closure of your honorable body.”
It can be recalled that the Bid Round for the leasing of the Oil Blocks, was slated for August 5 to November 14, 2014.
“The Government of Liberia in association with the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) is pleased to announce the opening of a Liberia Basin Bid Round, scheduled for August 5, 2014. Four undrilled offshore petroleum exploration Blocks (LB-6, LB-7, LB-16 and LB-17), which were the subject of earlier Bid Rounds have again become available,” the notice on the NOCAL’s website said. “Our goal is to lease Liberian oil blocks only to those companies best suited to both explore for and produce our country’s petroleum resources. All companies seeking to explore in Liberia, including our offshore territories, should expect to meet our high standards for corporate responsibility.”
However, nine of Liberia’s off-shore blocks have already been leased. Block 8, located off the coast of Sinoe County, and Block 9, off the coast of Sinoe and Rivercess Counties, have been leased to European Hydrocarbons Limited.
Block 10, off the coast of Rivercess County, were contracted to Anadarko of the USA (80%), Mitsubishi of Japan (10%) and Repsol of Spain (10%), while Blocks 11 and 12, off the coast of Grand Bassa County, were leased to Chevron (45%), Oranto (30%) and ENI (25%).
Block 13, off the coasts of Montserrado and Margibi Counties, were contracted to ExxonMobil (80%) and COPL (20%), while Block 14 located in the same areas, were leased to Chevron (45%), Oranto (30%) and ENI (25%).
The last of these, Block 15, off the coast of Montserrado and Bomi counties, were leased to Anadarko (47.5%), Repsol (27.5%) and Tullow (25%).
Most of the oil blocks are still undergoing explorations.
Besides the anticipated contracts of the four oil blocks, the Liberian legislature is expected to pass the recently validated draft oil & gas laws, referred to as the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) and the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) Acts of 2013.
At least 150 stakeholders from over 30 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) across the country successfully validated two ‘Oil and Gas Laws’, but recommended limitations on the power of the Head of State, in order to promote sustained transparency, accountability and good governance.
The validation was sponsored by the House of Representatives in partnership with NOCAL.
The passage of the two oil laws will bring about a Conference Committee from both Houses, as described by the Legislature’s rule, to derive a full-passage, when one of the Houses effect a change to the passed bill.