Oil In Liberia: How Could Liberians Settle For Only 5%?

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Liberia Oil Discovery
Liberia recently discovered oil in commercial quantities but has only 5% share

AFRICANGLOBE – “Bad leadership is Africa’s major problem”, -J.A Kuffuor, former president of Ghana.

The above problem as observed by the former president will NEVER change for as long as the African people do not understand why this problem exists and how the system can be defeated. Fortunately, everybody knows very well that the corruption which the West often accuse African leaders of, is the right environment that they need for their resource-control colonialism to thrive.

Liberian Oil and the Looting of Africa

The looting of African oil has begun in Grand Style, this time not in Nigeria nor Ghana but right in Liberia, also located in the West African region. For a country which has remained one of Africa’s poorest for decades, many were those who heaved a deep sigh of relief when Liberia recently announced to have “discovered” oil in commercial quantities, joining her West African sisters: Ghana, Nigeria and some others.

In my opinion, there is no “discovery” of oil anywhere in West Africa but the exploitation of the oil belt that runs along the coast of the entire region which the oil executives knew about for decades but did not care to build rigs till now as they tried to gain control over the unstable situations of the Middle East at that time.

Let the African people not be deceived, the oil scavengers are now looming over West Africa and if we are not careful to choose rightly between the Nigerian and Ghanaian models of exploitation, there will be no real benefit and this political bonanza could definitely be a curse for the Liberian people in the long run.

Obviously, like their Ghanaian neighbours, with the current stable political climate and the recent oil find, Liberians all over the world are gripped with the expected prosperity that the oil and gas exploration “will bring” to their country. Undoubtedly, if it is well managed, the opportunities that will accompany the exploitation of the black gold could transform the destiny of the entire country for generations to come. It is with this understanding which has consequently raised the hopes and aspirations of many in the country who look forward to seeing improvements in their living conditions from 2014 and beyond.

Unfortunately these aspirations may turn out to be a nightmare if the people do not rise up to the government to take some time and adequately scrutinize the said oil “agreement” and also set up a national platform for dialogue on the best way forward, so that together, there will be a dialogue to secure a reasonable percentage share (70% and above) for the people whose interest the government claim to serve.

According to a recent statement issued by the Nobel Peace Prize winner, President Ellen Johnson, the American Oil company, Exxon Mobil will own a whooping 80% of the oil shares discovered in Liberia, while their Canadian neighbours, the Canadian Oversea Petroleum Limited (COPL), will own 20%. Therefore many are wondering: where does this place the people of Liberia? What percentage share does the government of Liberia have in this oil deal? The African people would want to know.

Again, why the rush to explore the oil without first putting adequate measures in place to guard against the challenges that may accompany the oil exploration in the near future? Where is the government rushing to? Is President Ellen Johnson considering early retirement in the coming months? Has the government considered building local refineries to process the crude oil or Liberia will follow the Nigerian model where the raw crude is shipped to Europe after which the refined product is then shipped back to the country at ridiculous prices? Has the government considered training local engineers to take over the management of the oil industry within the shortest possible time? Why must African leaders always allow such sensitive sectors of their economy to be held hostage by a few foreign corporations?

Our major problem as Africans is that we lack leaders with adequate planning skills. Before we rush to commission most projects, we do not adequately take the time to plan against the unforeseeable challenges that may likely show up in the near future.

Liberia Oil Deposit
Knowledge of west Africa’s vast oil deposits existed for decades

Is Liberia well-prepared to deal with corruption in the oil and gas sector? Is the government prepared to face the angry youth who are likely to take up arms as we see in Nigeria? In Nigeria, many agitated so-called rebel groups rose up and took arms to fight what they call “corruption in the oil and gas sector”, a situation which has currently gotten out of control. Will Liberia learn some lessons from Nigeria or as usual, the leadership will wait unprepared, for the problems to come up before they run back to their NATO saviours for solutions?

Although President Ellen Johnson has not said what would happen to the Liberian share, the President and CEO of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), Dr. Randolph McClain, explained that the negotiating team of the Liberian government secured a 5% citizens participation share in LB-13and a further 5% royalty on oil produced from wells drilled under water depths of 0–1500 meters.

Angered by the shocking news, Okechuku, a PhD student at Oxford University wondered:

When Liberia was in crisis, did the US and Canada send any help? I’m shocked at how a country’s wealth is being giving away for peanuts. Is this the reason why the president was awarded the Nobel Prize some months ago? Ellen Johnson has always been the World Bank’s darling girl anyway. You don’t get a Nobel Peace Award without signing such deals.

This has always been my point. The man is absolutely right! Of course that is the price the people pay when our leaders are given such awards by US-funded NGOs such as Human Right Watch, and the so-called Nobel Peace Prize.

Remember Ellen Johnson was given the Noble Prize somewhere last year? Yeah, that was when the “actual oil deal” was sealed. I guess someone now has a clue as to why our leaders will always sign such unacceptable agreements. The selfishness of our leaders is the reason for our underdevelopment. Our people must rise up and say no to all those foreign funded NGOs who have been buying-off our leaders and our independence with their so-called awards. It’s a shame. No nationalism, no patriotism of any kind. How can a country that has suffered over a decade of economic hardship, settle for some 10% ‘royalty’ in a multi-billion resource like oil?

Is this all that our forefathers died for? Is this the hope and the dream the government sought to build when the people gave out their mandate? But more seriously, how much of this 10% will end up in the offshore accounts of many of these ‘negotiating team’? This still remains unclear.[/sociallocker]

Part Two