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--Following Lawsuit Threat
The National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) says the sale of four oil blocks recently wasn't a decision of the oil company.
Instead, NOCAL was instructed by the Legislative and Executive branches of government to ensure that the bid round be conducted, and that the process be competitive, transparent, and consistent with international best practices.
The oil company explained that the bid round had two key objectives: (i) seek to maximize signature bonuses that would assist in addressing the country's present financial challenge; and (ii) through exploration for hydrocarbons, increase Liberia's prospects for commercial oil discovery and development by opening some vacant and vacated acreage for development in the Liberia Basin.
With those objectives and guidelines, NOCAL was instructed to proceed after briefing both Houses of the Legislature, and after obtaining the concurrence to proceed.
The explanation by NOCAL comes as independent candidate Christopher Neyor threatened to file lawsuit against the Government of Liberia over the sale of four oil blocks. There are indications that Mr. Neyor, a former CEO and President of the oil company, may have already filed a prohibition.
In a statement issued Wednesday, NOCAL disclosed that the Liberia Basin Bid Round 2014 planning commenced in June 2014, with key partner TGS Nopec (TGS), the international firm that has worked with NOCAL for many years in collecting seismic data on Liberia's acreage. The international auditing and consulting firm Ernst & Young (EY) was hired, after a competitive process, to provide independent oversight and to ensure the process conformed to international industry standards.
“In addition to EY, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was consulted for professional advisory assistance on the financial model and fiscal terms. International legal and commercial experts were hired to advise and develop the bid invitation letter, prequalification submission forms, and a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) modeled on that used last year for LB-13 with ExxonMobil, but with more favorable conditions on Liberian-citizen participation, local content, and State benefits,” the oil company stressed..
With core elements in place, and with the requisite approvals, NOCAL said it announced and opened the Liberia Basin 2014 competitive bid round for four undrilled offshore petroleum exploration Blocks (LB-6, LB-7, LB-16 and LB-17) on August 5, 2014. It added that press releases announcing the bid round were issued by TGS and NOCAL, and the bid round website went live.