Big Oil Confab in Monrovia, Liberia

That Liberia is likely to become an oil producing and oil-exporting nation, after Nigeria and Ghana in West Africa, is no doubt good news for Liberians. Unlike Nigeria and Ghana, however, Liberia does not seem to have an entrepreneurial class capable of taking ownership of the new industry. That should be worrisome. But there seems to be no reason for that. Today, the National Oil Company of Liberia (NACOL) is doing something about that missing factor in Liberia’s prospective oil fortune.

The National Oil Company of Liberia (NACOL) has announced in Monrovia that it is hosting a big oil conference in Monrovia to build the agenda for Liberia businesses interested in oil exploration in the country.

The NACOL forum, observers say, is likely to prepare Liberian businesses for participation in the nation’s newest export industry, off-short or shallow water crude oil exploration. Many therefore expect these early steps to lead to Liberians, eventually, taking a lion’s share of the nation’s oil exploration ventures.

The confab’s goal

A NACOL press release issued in Monrovia yesterday said the conference, which convenes at the Monrovia City Hall between July 14 and 15, would deliberate on the theme, “The Liberian Business Linkages and Equity Participation in the Hydrocarbon Subsector”.

The participation forum is part of the Liberian Economy Validation and Sensitization Forum, which is part of a series of engagements aimed at ensuring that Liberia’s emerging oil and gas industry provides local value and maximizes benefits to Liberians.

“The Forum is aimed at building the agenda for Liberian businesses to take advantage of the immense economic benefits that will evolve in the event of future discovery and production of oil in Liberia,” the release said.

Besides, the release signed by NACOL’s Assistant Public Relations Manager, Mambu James Kpargoi, said, the forum would bring Liberian businesses on board with what is happening in the country’s emerging oil and gas sector.

“The Forum seeks to underline the importance of future oil discovery for the Liberian economy and for Liberian businesses to have a solid foundation to ensure their active participation in the Hydrocarbon Sector,” the release noted further.

According to the release, conference presenters will take Liberian entrepreneurs and institutions through series of interactive lectures and roundtable discussions.

The conference deliberations will focus on ensuring local content in the Liberian hydrocarbon sector – what it means for Liberians; Liberia’s true growth engines for the hydrocarbons sector; and understanding the concepts, strategies, principles, rules, and potential regulations of local content.

They will focus on building business linkages to increase local content and equity participation by Liberians in the sector; local content development: lessons from experience and possible ways forward – international oil company or international oil services company representatives; collaboration between local entrepreneurs and trans-national companies in Liberia – what we are looking for, what can we offer?; and the way forward.

It said two international experts in ‘Local Content Development in the Oil and Gas Sector’ – Mr. Anthony E. Paul and Dr. Michael Warner – would make presentations at the Forum.

“Mr. Anthony E. Paul is the Managing Director of the Association of Caribbean Energy Specialists (ACES) Ltd., a leading Caribbean oil, gas and power advisory firm, based in Trinidad and Tobago and an expert in oil and gas exploration. Dr. Michael Warner is Director of the United Kingdom based Local Content Solutions,” the release noted.

It recalled that NACOL commissioned a study recently to serve as a basis for developing local business linkages with transnational corporations (TNCs) during hydrocarbon development.
“The study placed special emphasis on ensuring significant Liberian content in the delivery of goods and services during the exploration phase,” the release said.

It said NACOL was holding the conference to ensure that a framework is put into place to integrate most or all aspects of hydrocarbon development into their economies.

Because many developing oil countries make the mistake of not developing such frameworks, the release said, the full potential of socioeconomic development was hardly realized for these countries. It said this “caused instability and validated what social scientists refer to as the resource curse”.

“In order to avoid the resource curse, Liberia must integrate hydrocarbon development into the local economy by building linkages, which promote small and medium enterprise (SME) growth and development, improve human resources and results in capacity building,” the release noted.