In the wake of the country’s economic woes, the President in collaboration with partners is working to revive the oil sector, including the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) and Liberia Petroleum Regulatory Authority (LPRA).
According to an Executive Mansion press release, President George Weah on November 6 mandated the “relevant institutions” to work out necessary modalities for a successful reopening of the Liberia basin as well as the opening of the Harper Basin for oil and gas exploration.
“In an effort to revive the Liberian economy, the Government of Liberia will be hosting bid rounds for selected blocks in the Liberia and Harper basins in 2019 and, therefore, wishes to encourage interested companies to take advantage of the groundbreaking opportunities to invest in the sector,” the release said.
The release also indicated that the President and developmental partners have worked tirelessly to identify and develop a framework that would revive the economy and eventually bring relief to the Liberian people.
“In the view of the President, one area of significant interest and relevance in reviving the economy is Liberia’s oil and gas sector, which remains largely untapped, but has the potential to rekindle and brighten the path to prosperity,” the release said.
The President has directed and advised the relevant institutions to develop an appropriate framework in order to enhance and facilitate the successful hosting of the 2019 Bid Rounds.
The President will subsequently announce the blocks for the Liberia and Harper basins that the government intends to put up for bid.
It can be recalled President Weah, in his inaugural address to the nation, declared that Liberia is open for business and appealed to international partners to come and invest in the country, which the release said the President has reiterated.
On June 19, President Weah made additional appointments at NOCAL, bringing onboard Madam Saifuah Gray as president/CEO, Eric Daniels, vice president for Finance, Dr. Lester Tenny, vice president for Technical Services and Carmena C. Yeke, general counsel.
Both institutions that the President has decided to revive have allegedly been managed by Madam Gray.
According to reports, NOCAL was performing both regulatory and commercial functions in the petroleum sector, but a reform which began in 2010 saw the passage of two laws amending the NOCAL Act and creating the LPRA.
Before his resignation, Mr. Smith disagreed with Ms. Gray over the allocation of money and assets that the LPRA should have received.
Madam Gray is on record for saying that she will ensure that the President fires Mr. Smith. She said if it does not happen then she is not a woman. But it is not clear whether Smith’s firing by the President is related to the ongoing wrangling between him and the NOCAL boss.