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Liberia: No Crude Oil Discovered in Gbarnga – LPRA Clarifies Media Report

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Gbarnga – The Liberia Petroleum Regulatory Authority (LPRA) Tuesday, July 9, 2019, refuted and denied media publications of major oil discovery in Gbarnga, specifically along the Jor River. 

The LPRA clarification following front-page captions in the printed edition of the Heritage Newspaper “Crude Oil Discovered in Bong, But…” and the online edition of the Analyst Newspaper “Crude Oil Discovered in Bong? -DEECO Oil and Gas Ltd wants Bongese to pray for commercial quantity” respectively.

The LPRA during a news conference Tuesday  clarified that such news is untrue. 

According to Archie N. Donmo, director general of LPRA, the LPRA is the statutory government entity that is responsible to grant petroleum rights and supervise all activities relating to the upstream petroleum sector. 

Donmo said being mindful of its core values and responsibility to efficiently and transparently manage the sector, LPRA granted DEECO Liberia Limited, a subsidiary of DEECO Oil and Gas Limited (registered in Nigeria), a Reconnaissance License (No. LPR-001: Seismic Data Acquisition and Technical Evaluation)  to collect preliminary geological and geophysical data within Jorquelleh District along the Jor River in keeping within the New Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Reform Law of 2014. 

Donmo said record in its possession shows that DEECO has not commenced any operation within Liberia regarding its obligation under the license but informed LPRA that it is mobilizing efforts (financially and technically) to commence seismic data acquisition and technical evaluation in keeping with the Petroleum Law and the Reconnaissance License. 

But DEECO, during a notification this week to LPRA, denied that it did not release any information to the media or individual relating to oil discovery in Gbarnga in consideration that its operations.

The company further told LPRA, according to Donmo, that it has not commenced and there is possibility of making a discovery at this stage of reconnaissance. 

In its statement issued to the press on Monday, July 8, 2019 and published on the front-page of the Inquirer Newspaper, the chairman of DEECO, Apostle Sunday Popools, noted: “I told them that DEECO had only acquired a Reconnaissance License few weeks ago from the Liberian Petroleum Regulatory Authority and is mobilizing all efforts to commence the work program as stipulated in the license. I re-iterated that it is only after we have conducted seismic survey and hopefully drilled exploratory wells that a test may confirm oil in commercial quantity.” 

In response to this statement, LPRA said under the reconnaissance license, DEECO is not authorized to engage in exploratory drilling as such rights are granted through a Petroleum Sharing Agreement in conformity with the Petroleum Law, 2014. 

Under this reconnaissance license, according to LPRA, DEECO is required to conduct Acquisition, Processing and Interpretation of Full Tension Gravity Gradiometry (FTG); 2D Seismic Survey of minimal 100 to 200 km; and 3D as both LPRA and DEECO may agree. 

There are many stages in oil and gas development paradigm, according to LPRA.  It starts, according to LPRA, with prospecting, which includes seismic survey and later exploratory drilling, appraisal, development, production and abandonment. Any chance of oil discovery is only made at the exploration drilling and appraisal stages. 

LPRA said that taking into consideration that DEECO is beginning to commence data (seismic) acquisition, it is impossible for any determination of an oil discovery. 

LPRA used Tuesday’s press conference to encourage the public to continue reading its website (www.lpra.gov.lr) for regular updates on its operations relating to the oil and gas program in Liberia.

Bong citizens hail LPRA for clarity 

In reaction to the LPRA’s press conference, residents of Bong County Tuesday said the clarity was timely as the “discovery of oil” in Gbarnga unnecessarily raised their hopes especially at a time when the country’s economy is in a decline.

Amos Zeon, a resident of Gbarnga, said the pronouncement of “crude oil” discovery in Gbarnga by some District Three lawmaker Marvin Cole was political. “It was unrealistic and an attempt by our lawmaker Honorable Cole to win the minds of citizens of the district amid failed campaign promises,” he said.  

Former District Three lawmaker, George Mulbah,  who has been skeptical about news of “crude oil” discovery in Gbarnga said, it was about time people in leadership verify information before making public pronouncement. “I think the decision to go public with unfounded information was inappropriate. Leaders should always make responsible statements,” he said

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