The National Oil Company of Liberia’s (NOCAL) action to allegedly prevent several local companies from participating in the 2014 “Liberia Basin Bid Round” for offshore blocks LB-6, LB-7, LB-16 and LB-17 has landed the company in serious trouble with the Supreme Court of Liberia.
NOCAL has already declared the bid round closed since October 2014, and is in the process of evaluating bids and notifying successful bidders, according to the Dean and Associates Law Firm.
The law firm is representing the interest of Liberian businessman Harry A. Greaves, Jr., who is seeking the Supreme Court intervention to restrain and prohibit NOCAL from further proceeding with the awarding of oil blocks.
Chapter 11 Article 7 of the 1986 Liberia Constitution mandates that “the Republic shall, consistent with the principles of individual freedom and social justice enshrined in this Constitution, manage the national economy and the natural resources of Liberia, in such manner, as shall ensure the maximum feasible participation of Liberian citizens under condition of equality, as to advance the general welfare of the Liberian people and the economic development of Liberia.”
Mr. Greaves’ assertion has prompted Associate Justice Philip A. Z. Banks, Associate Justice presiding in Chambers, to invite the parties to a conference.
A communication in that direction, copy of which is with the Daily Observer reads, “You are hereby cited to a conference with Associate Justice Philips A. Z. Banks on Wednesday, November 26, at 9:30 a.m. in connection with the above captioned case.”
The directive concluded, “The parties are admonished to desist from any action that will compromise the outcome of the conference.
It also said, “In their complaint, the law firm alleged that their client got the information through casual conversation with one of NOCAL’s Vice Presidents, Pete Norman, that [the] company was condcuting a bid round .
“After receiving the news, the document said, Greaves immediately visted NOCAL website and discovered that the Liberia Basin Bid Round 2014, for offshore blocks LB-6, LB-7, LB-16 and LB17 closed on October 2014.
“I immediately sent a letter to Seward Cooper and Randolph McClain, chairman of the board of directors and president of NOCAL, respectively; bringing to their attention that either no or very little publicity was done in Liberia in respect of the Bid Round,” the document further quoted Mr. Greaves as stating.
According to them, sufficient publicity was not given within Liberia to the bid round to provide Liberian citizens an opportunity to participate meaningfully in the development of Liberia’s fledging petroleum industry.
“The bid was shrouded in mystery, secrecy, and privacy, to the extent that either or little effort was made to undertake publicity through the print newspapers and broadcast radio and television media,” Mr. Greaves and his lawyers claimed in the complaint.
It may be recalled that beginning August 2000, under the auspcice of NOCAL, TGS –NOPEC, a geophysical company based in Houston, Texas, United States of America (USA), condcuted a 2-D Seismic survey, which covered a large portion of the offshore Southern Liberia shelf and slope.
The company’s survey acquried approximitetaly 9,500 km of seismic data from the entrie offshore area, inclduing the deep water area of Liberia.
Shockingly, the law firm alleged, the area was divided into seventeen blocks, twelve of which have already been awarded without any Liberian entity participation.
In April 2000, the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) was established by an Act of the Legislature, as a public corporation.
It is an instrumentality of the government for the purpose of holding all of the rights, title and interest of the Republic of Liberia in the deposits and reserves of liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons within the territorial limits of the Republic of Liberia. It is also clothed with the power of facilitating the development of the oil and gas industry in the country.