Liberia: House says Oil Deals Lack Transparency – Lawmakers Tell Government to Cease Negotiations Over Oil Blocks

Written by Tom B Nyenur

Source: FrontPage Africa                                                                                                            
Alex Tyler
The Legislature has accused the executive of not being transparent about its deals with multinational oil companies over its oil blocks, foreshadowing a potential battle between the two branches of government.
The legislators on Tuesday released findings of an investigation they said showed the presidency was failing to adhere to accountability and transparency procedures in negotiating deals for Liberia’s offshore oil blocks.

The report by the House of Representatives showed that the National Oil Company of Liberia, NOCAL, did not allow Liberian society groups to participate in the process, when it was negotiating deals for oil blocks on behalf of the presidency.
The investigation was launched about two months ago after Margibi County Representative Emmanuel Nuquay raised concerns about the lack stakeholder consultation in the negotiations.
According to document in the possession of FrontPage Africa, the Legislature claims government risks losing US$27 million because of NOCAL’s failure to complete the negotiation of oil Block 13, thus creating budgetary deficit in breach of the national budget law.
The document also argues the budget is being undermined by the deposit of revenue generated from the sale of the Japanese food aid and petroleum products.
In line with the Liberian government’s appropriation and disbursement procedures, money generated from the sale of commodities should have been deposited into the government’s consolidated account and not into escrow account.
Meanwhile, the House has endorsed a number of corrective recommendations originating from its joint committees on Ways Means, Lands, Mines and Natural Resources, State Enterprises, Public Accounts and Judiciary.
Among the endorsed recommendations, the House wants all existing production sharing contracts and other addendums be reviewed for compliance with all provisions of the new petroleum law of Liberia.
The joint committees also recommended that negotiations on all offshore blocks, including numbers 1-7, be suspended until the conditions are met including the review of the Act that created NOCAL in 2007.
It remains to be seen whether the Executive Branch will consent to the House’s demands or lead to another battle between the two branches of government.

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