House finally concurs
The House of Representatives has unanimously concurred with the Senate to amend certain provisions of the New Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Reform Law of Liberia, 2014; and had since forwarded it to the Senate for onward transmission to President George Weah for approval.
The House’s decision to agree with the Senate on Friday, September 20, 2019 to amend the New Petroleum Law of 2014, followed a recommendation from the Joint Committee on Hydro Carbon, Lands, Mines, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment and the Judiciary.
In 2013, the Legislature embarked upon a process to reform the upstream petroleum sector with the primary goal to ensure that policy setting, regulatory oversight and policy implementation/operations be housed in three distinct institutions, un-bundling the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) which, in accordance with the Petroleum Law of 2002, performed all three functions.
In November 2016, members of the 53rd Legislature passed into law “An Act to amend and restate the Petroleum Law of Liberia in 2002, thereby establishing “the New Petroleum (Exploration and Production Reform) Law of Liberia, 2014.”
The passage of this Act has created the functions of policy setting, regulatory oversight, and policy implementation/operations. The policy setting function was vested in the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
The Ministry of Petroleum was also created comprising two institutions, the Petroleum Regulatory Authority to regulate the sector, and the NOCAL to implement the operational aspect.
The Petroleum Regulatory Authority was created to promote transparency and openness in the administration of the petroleum resources of the country; to create a conducive business environment for petroleum operations; to establish commercially-oriented and profit-driven oil and gas institutions; and to promote the development of Liberia’s petroleum resource for the benefit of the country.
Also, the Authority was created to ensure that the petroleum resources are managed in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner to optimistic returns, and ensure benefits to Liberians now and in the future.
According to amended provisions in the New Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Reform Law of Liberia 2014, those amendments include Sections 6.3; 7.6; 7.79(d); 14.1; and 36.6.
For instance, in Section 6.3, the amended version says, “The surface of offshore blocks shall not exceed 3,500 sq.km, and the surface of onshore blocks shall not exceed 2,000 sq.km.”
The old version said the surface offshore blocks constituted under the Act shall not exceed 2,000 sq.km, and the surface of onshore blocks constituted under this Act shall not exceed 1,000 sq.km.
Meanwhile, the House on Monday, September 30 also concurred with the Senate to ratify two mineral development agreements the Executive recently submitted to that august body.
Both agreements are between the government and Prosis Mining Liberia Limited in two target areas. The bills were earlier passed in the Senate, and forwarded to the House of Representatives on September 20, 2019.
A joint committee was then requested to review and consider due legislative diligence to both agreements and report to the House within one week.
In its report to the House, the committee said it had conducted all required due diligence and held hearings. The committee recommended passing the agreements without amendment, noting that both bills had gone through robust scrutiny.