Liberia: Oil Executive Questions Accuracy of Special Presidential Committee Report
Debunks Being Board Member for Period under Review
Monrovia – Jacqueline E. Khoury, a former Board member of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) has questioned the accuracy on numerous issues raised in the report Special Presidential Committee on their investigation into the Global Witness’ revelation on sale of Block-13.
The first inaccuracy was listing her as one of Board Members who received bonuses for signing off on the sale of the oil block. The Committee, in its report, recommended that officials who received any form of money during that period should be made to restitute the amount or be charged with economic sabotage.
“I did not serve on the NOCAL Board in April of 2013, and I did not receive a bonus. I was appointed to the Board September of 2013,” as noted in an Executive Mansion press release, Ms. Khoury wrote in a letter to the Special Presidential Committee.
“I have built a solid reputation in the oil and gas industry in these past 20 years, and have successfully aided companies, and governments, including the Government of Liberia, to position themselves for the best possible benefit from their oil and gas wealth. I served on the Board of a legitimate public corporation, and not a criminal enterprise. Although I was not a member of the NOCAL Board during the period when the transactions in question arose, I served proudly as an Advisor to the then Chairman of the Board and the Exxon negotiations is one highlight in my professional career. I did not receive any bonus payments for participating in the transaction. I am therefore repeating my demand that you formally retract your inclusion of my name in your document, exonerate me from your recommendation for punitive action, and publish your statement in the major newspapers of Liberia, as well as Bloomberg News, where I first learned of the inaccurate inclusion of my name in your document,” she wrote.
The seasoned oil expert said allegations contained in the Global Witness report cannot be taken lightly globally, therefore, there’s the need for follow up investigation to be more careful with facts and ensure that their report is a true representation of truth and accuracy.
Khoury: “The petroleum industry is vast, layered and complex. It is unique in its global reach and strategic importance. To a layperson, especially one given the tight constraint of a 2 weeks mandate to “determine the authenticity of the GW allegations” and when appropriate, “proffer possible recommendations where necessary”, the issues may seem surface and contained only within the Liberian vernacular, but it is not. The Global Witness Report has far-reaching implications and if proven accurate, diminish the future of Liberia’s oil program greatly. Your Report, therefore, cannot and should not contain inaccuracies.”
Khoury further stated “The Special Presidential Committee is incorrect, NOCAL was NOT experiencing financial crisis during the period in review. In fact, in 2013, when the NOCAL Board approved the bonuses, NOCAL was fiscally capable of sustaining the payments and one of the highest contributors of dividend payments to GOL (FY12/13 $4million, FY13/14 $7.77million), plus an addition of fees paid directly to GOL by NOCAL emanating from each PSC (FY12/13 $8.9million, FY13/14 $51.33million).
“No institution is created perfect, but the wrongdoings assigned NOCAL, and the punitive damages recommended against those who served Liberia while re-negotiating the Block LB13 Contract by your Special Presidential Committee Report does a disservice to the future of Liberia’s oil program. As the Fiscal Regime Comparative Chart demonstrates, those who served on the NOCAL Board and the HTC at the time negotiated one of the best globally recognized production-sharing agreements. It is the strength of the negotiations and the strength of the agreement reached, that brought maximum benefit to Liberia,” she noted in the letter to the Special Presidential Committee.
The Block LB13 contract was and is the most profitable contract in Liberia’s history to date and one of the most profitable contracts in modern oil and gas for a non-oil producing country, besting, in its negotiations with Exxon, countries that are proven oil producers as illustrated by the chart above (the chart was produced by OpenOil (openoil.net).