Friday, August 27, 2010

Liberian Government Signs Up Chevron as Oil Exploration Partner


Moving closer to joining the growing ranks of African oil producers, Liberia has selected one of the world's largest oil companies as lead partner to explore potential offshore reserves. The announcement puts the spotlight on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's pledge that Liberia will use its natural resources for growth and development and avoid the pitfalls that have plagued many oil- and mineral-rich nations.

The government said a statement on Friday that a three-year exploration agreement with the Chevron Corporation involving three deep-water concessions in Liberian waters "has been approved by the Executive and submitted to the Legislature for consideration and ratification."

"We are delighted to welcome Chevron as a partner for Liberia to explore our oil and gas assets," Johnson Sirleaf said in the Executive Mansion statement. "Energy is one of my top priorities, and with Chevron's technical skills we will be able to build our own capacity in the sector making a meaningful contribution to economic growth and job creation."

"This is a crucial partnership for Liberia," she said in an apparent appeal to the legislative branch to act promptly so exploration can begin before the end of the year. She said Chevron would bring to the country not only an important investment but also "the latest technologies, best practices in transparency and efficiencies, and an excellent record of community and social responsibility."

But ratification may not come easily. Many legislators have been less-than-eager to support the popular president's ambitious agenda, and political tensions are on the rise as the country moves towards elections in October 2011. Johnson Sirleaf, who is seeking a second term, is likely to be opposed by several contenders, including George Weah, the soccer star who was lost in a 2005 run-off in the country's first elections following 25 years of disruption and civil war.

Following a visit to the United States in May, Johnson Sirleaf said she had met Chevron executives to encourage the oil giant "to come and do business," which she said "will send a big signal" that Liberia is a place investors should take seriously. Negotiations continued in Monrovia between a team of senior Chevron officials and the Liberian leader and her advisers.

The Executive Mansion statement called the agreement "a further vote of confidence in the country's future" and cited other major investors who have committed to projects in the country, including ArcelorMittal, Firestone, BHP Billiton, Sime Darby, Anadarko Petroleum, China Union and Golden Veroleum, an Indonesian firm which this month approved a $1.6 billion palm oil deal.

The statement also pointed to the September 5 launch by Delta Airlines of service between Atlanta and Monrovia - "the first direct flights from the U.S. to Monrovia in 20 years." The flight, which will also stop in Accra, will operate on a 215-seat Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, Delta has said. The service had been scheduled to begin in June 2009 but was delayed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security pending completion of upgrades at Roberts International Airport outside the capital, Monrovia.

Since taking office in 2006, Johnson Sirleaf has made the fight against corruption a cornerstone of her platform. In a May 2010 AllAfrica interview, she said corruption "systemic" in Liberia and said: "The only way to solve it is to take it from under the carpet and deal with it." She expressed confidence that the country is "moving in the right direction and that, in a few years, we'll solve this problem."

Chevron currently has major operations in Africa's two largest oil producing nations, Nigeria and Angola, and also is engaged in exploration and production in Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo.

Exploration in Liberia to date has been carried out by the U.S.-based independent producer Anadarko and UK-based Oranto, which operates in Nigeria and has interests in several other West African countries. Seismic data produced by Oranto from two offshore blocks showed prospects for sufficient undersea petroleum reserves to interest a big player like Chevron.

Liberia sits at the western edge of the Gulf of Guinea, which extends along the coast to Nigeria, a major producer since the 1960s. Oil prospects have risen for Liberia's neighbors to the east, including Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana, where production is slated to begin later this year in a large offshore field called Jubilee.

Advances in both exploration and production techniques have opened the way for expanded oil and gas production across Africa. According to a U.S. Geologic Survey Fact Sheet issued in February, there have been more than 275 new fields discovered in West Africa since 2000.

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Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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