By Viktor Katona |
For many years it seemed that Liberia has missed out on the West African oil bonanza – whilst Nigeria has already established itself as the leading oil producer in the Gulf of Guinea and Ghana was about to celebrate the discovery of Jubilee, Liberia was still bleeding from a 14-year civil war.
Having allocated substantial parts of its offshore areas to leading majors in the 1st and 2nd licensing rounds, it took several years to iron out all the technicalities of Liberia’s exploration and production terms, a period which was dampened by rather pessimistic exploratory drilling results.
There is a strange irony in that following more than a decade of leisurely political decision-making Liberia is to push forward with its offshore licensing round with the COVID-19 pandemic raging on and oil prices being at multi-year lows but that is exactly what is going on.
The Liberia Petroleum Regulatory Authority (LPRA) launched the Harper Basin licensing round on April 10, opening the bidding procedure for nine blocks in the country’s western offshore zone.
Despite not being able to conduct the usual upstream roadshow, compelled to launch the licensing round online, LPRA did not delay the licensing round altogether and has instead set February 28, 2021 as the bidding deadline (originally October 2020 was assumed to be the cutoff date).
Liberia is more confident that it can attract foreign investment – the government has amended the Petroleum Law and can now offer bigger and newly delineated offshore blocks. But first it might need to convince investors that the oil is genuinely there.