For Transparency in the OIL sector: NOCAL Holds Nationwide Consultation
The discovery of offshore oil in Liberia earlier this year has generated claims and counter-claims among citizens over the benefits to be derived from the proceeds from the resource. However, the government has repeatedly given assurances to the citizenry about its commitment to ensuring that money generated from the oil industry will be used for the benefit of everyone.
In furtherance of its desire to ensure that Liberians remain the target beneficiaries of the oil, the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), an entity entrusted by government with the task of overseeing the sector has begun a month-long nationwide consultative process on the draft petroleum policy for Liberia, as our Staff Writer Adolphus Mawolo reports.
A nationwide consultation process on the draft petroleum policy of Liberia aimed at generating the views of citizens on reform in the oil and gas sector of the country was at the weekend launched at the Monrovia City Hall. The National Oil Company of Liberia or NOCAL is spearheading the initiative.
The goal of the policy is to manage Liberia's petroleum sector in a way that ensures that petroleum resources equitably benefit the people of Liberia now and in the future. The President of the National Oil Company of Liberia, Dr. Randolph McClain said the reform measure is intended to update the law and policy governing the country's emerging hydrocarbon and gas sector for the greater good of the population. Speaking during the launch of the nationwide consultation process in Monrovia over the weekend, Dr. McCain noted that reform in the sector will address policy issues such as resource ownership and maritime boundary, legal framework and institutional oversight, state participation and fiscal regime, and revenue management. Other policy issues are transparency and accountability, safety, health, environment and social impact, licensing and contracting, work programs as well as operations and local content. According to the draft policy, local content means the combination of materials, goods and related services used in the local oil and gas industry.
In February this year, oil was discovered off Liberia's shore by Africa Petroleum, but it is yet to be determined if the find is in commercial quantity.
While Liberians are anxiously awaiting the announcement on the quantity of the oil discovery, Dr. McClain says oil is a “power resource” that if managed properly, it can propel Liberia to a higher level of development.
As a regulatory body, he said NOCAL will strive to ensure broader participation in the country's oil and gas sector by engaging civil society organizations and all Liberians in order to promote inclusiveness.
“We are together initiating a process that will improve the governance of our oil sector with the core objective of creating commercial opportunities in Liberia that will impact the lives of our people,” Dr. McClain said.
He said through transparency and accountability in its oil sector, Liberia can avoid the violent conflicts that have characterized the oil industry in parts of Africa as a result of mismanagement and corruption.
For her part, Labour Minister Varbah Gayflor said it is important for Liberia to avoid the resource curse that has plagued other countries in Africa.
“We are not saying that the discovery of oil in Liberia is going to be a source of conflict but depending on how it is managed, it could be,” Minister Gayflor said.
Also speaking during the launch of the nationwide consultation process, the Executive Director of the Liberia Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, Sampson Tokpa said the consultative process initiated by NOCAL is a critical step toward instituting reform measures that ensure the proper management of Liberia's resources in a way that reflects the desires and aspirations of the Liberian people.