Liberia Makes ‘Significant’ Oil Discovery

Liberian President visits an offshore drilling rig

Officials at the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) announced Tuesday that they welcomed pronouncement by African Petroleum that its Narina-1 exploratory well drilled in Block LB-09 off the coast of Liberia has a potentially large accumulation of oil deposits.

The petroleum company has however cautioned that the development of any discovery in Liberia will take several years.

Welcoming the news Tuesday at a press conference, NOCAL newly appointed President, Dr. Randolph McClain, said the exploration and preliminary discovery by African Petroleum provides further evidence of Liberia’s strong offshore prospects, part of the same geological system that has yielded significant discoveries in neighboring Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast, respectively.

Dr. McClain said it reflects the policy of the Government of Liberia to form strategic commercial partnerships with the private sector to explore those prospects and use any discovery for the maximum benefit and development of the country and its citizens.

He noted that though early indications are positive, the exact extent of the deposits found in LB-09 is not yet known. African Petroleum will now conduct tests to further evaluate the quantity of the oil discovered, a process that is expected to take several months.

The evaluation will indicate whether the deposits are in sufficient quantity to be commercially viable for production. Once appraised, the deposits will then take five to seven years until formal production starts.

“This news is good news for Liberia, and we are cautiously optimistic. We do not yet really know how much is down there. But we know, according to African Petroleum, that this discovery is of very good to excellent quality oil. We will be working with African Petroleum to develop a better picture. So now, we urge everyone to be very patient. It will take time to fully appraise this discovery, and years before a drop of oil are produced from the well,” Dr. McClain indicated.

He noted, “In the meantime, we have to work double time to get our house in order in terms of reforming our policies, laws and regulations for total transparency in the oil sector. We are also determined to develop the safety, health and environmental policies to avoid any adverse or catastrophic incidents.”

“We look forward to working with all the stakeholders within government, in the private sector, in civil society organizations and, most importantly, the public. We plead for your participation. Let’s work together to set a vision.”

NOCAL President said the primary focus is to actualize the goal set out by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in making sure that oil revenue will be used for the development of Liberia and the maximum benefit of Liberians.

“If commercial quantities become available, the income from these quantities can be used to improve the lives of our people, to attain self-sufficiency, and to ensure sustainable development. To achieve that, we remain committed to the principles of transparency, sustainability, inclusiveness and safety, health and environmental care in all our activities to manage the petroleum sector.”

“We want to commend African Petroleum and all our partners in the private sector for continuing to work with professionalism and efficiency to explore Liberia’s prospects, and re-iterate our commitment to fair, equitable and strong commercial partnerships going forward”, he told a news conference.

Dr. McClain maintained that the finding by African Petroleum took place in Block LB-09, off the coast of Liberia, which is one of two blocks being operated by the company under a Production Sharing Agreement negotiated by the Executive and ratified by the Legislature in 2008. The exploratory well is among several being drilled during 2011 and 2012 by different global oil companies.