The Liberian public has waited for a while and the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) has spent a pretty penny (millions of United States dollars) to see the partial completion of its fuel storage tanks. This is part of the LPRC’s ongoing Product Storage Terminal Rehabilitation Project.
On Tuesday this week, the company’s Managing Director, T. Nelson Williams II, led its Board of Directors on a guided tour of the newly constructed terminal, which has now increased LPRC’s storage capacity from 12.3 to 18.5 million gallons of mixed petroleum products—a milestone in the history of the company’s storage capacity.
This, said Mr. Williams, will result in increased revenues and dividends to the Liberian government.
He referred to previous achievements in the rehabilitation project, including a modern product testing laboratory, a close circuit television security system, a fire water tank and four petroleum tanks as part of the PST Expansion Project.
The entire project, said William, is slated for completion next year—2016.
The other good news is that, according to Mr. Williams, the piping and fabrication works on the new tanks were undertaken by a Liberian company, Green Coast Construction, owned by Henry Getto. LPRC Operations Manager Bobby Brown informed the Board that these works were executed “perfectly” and far ahead of schedule.
One of the benefits to be derived from the new tanks is the reduction in the overstay of vessels at the jetty (where oil tankers dock to offload their oil cargo). Another major benefit is an increase in the strategic reserve—over 90 days—of all petroleum products.
These achievements by LPRC deserve high commendation. It is an indication that long gone are the days—especially in the 1980s—when hundreds of motor vehicles lined up at petroleum stations for hours waiting for fuel, often in vain.
LPRC’s immediate challenge, even before the current rehabilitation project is completed next year, is to begin plans for an extension of the “strategic reserves” from 90 days to 90 weeks—or approximately a year and a half. That would put Liberia ahead of many countries in the West African sub-region and ensure that the country will never be short of fuel any time soon.
We have two other major challenges that we hope LPRC would seriously consider. The first is the rebuilding of a petroleum refining facility. This is something Liberia has not seen since the 1970s when Sun Oil built and operated such a facility at the old LPRC site in Gardnersville, off Somalia Drive.
Should LPRC be able to rebuild the refinery, the company would be empowered to export many of its products to neighboring countries and replenish much of the foreign exchange used to import petroleum. The petroleum refinery would be even more necessary if and when, by God’s grace, Liberia strikes oil in commercial quantities.
The second major challenge which we hope LPRC would consider is the erection in downtown Monrovia of a skyscraper—a 15-20 storey building which would house not only its modern headquarters but the headquarters and offices of many other industries and commercial firms.
In so doing, LPRC would be emulating the great example of the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASCORP), which has invested some of its money in office complexes and guest houses in various places around the country.
This newspaper has long argued that it is only Liberians that will build Liberia and transform this land of liberty, once called the Grain Coast, into a beautiful, modern country that can still become a great country.
What we need are serious, focused and visionary people of integrity, commitment and patriotism, who can look beyond the horizon and into the vistas of the future and see and grasp opportunities and accomplishments that can make Liberia the envy of Africa.