Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Ivory Coast are in the hunt for investors to explore for oil and gas as they look to enhance their respective economies.
The President and Chief Executive Officer for Liberia’s National Oil Company (NOCAL) is Madam Saifuah-Mai Gray. Madam Gray is a graduate of Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law in Liberia. She is a lawyer and a member of the Liberian National Bar Association and the Association of Females Lawyers in Liberia. She’s described as being knowledgeable in areas of international best practices and has extensive experience in the legal services arena.
The Director-General of Sierra Leone Petroleum directorate is Mr. Timothy Musa Kabba. Mr. Kabba commenced his career as a Junior Petroleum Engineer with Rosneft Oil Company and Bashneft Oil and Gas Company respectively, and successfully worked in Siberia, Russia; He later joined Lukoil Overseas in Moscow as a Reservoir Engineer. He holds a specialist master’s degree in Petroleum Engineering from St. Petersburg University in Russia.
Abdourahmane Cissé is head of the Ivorian Ministry of Petroleum, Energy and Renewable Energy. He holds an engineering degree and a master’s degree in Economic Science and Petroleum Resources Management from the University of Oklahoma (United States). In 2005, he joined Goldman Sachs where he was given an opportunity to work as an analyst within the Raw Materials department; an Associate-Trader for structured products; and a VP/Executive Director in charge of volatility trading and dividends pertaining to Eurozone indices.
The head of these West African petroleum agencies are tasked with opening new licensing round for offshore blocks. According to Cisse, Ivory Coast is close to other discoveries. As the world’s largest producer of cocoa, Ivory Coast is poised to expand its economy with oil exploration. It is estimated that Ivory Coast has at least 100 million barrels of oil and about 1 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves.
Liberia is set to open another round of licensing in April 2020. According to TGS, a seismic company which holds data on Liberia’s offshore, no commercial quantity of oil has been found in any of the previous oil blocks sold in Liberia. Over the years, expectations for significant offshore oil discoveries diminished significantly when companies such as Anadarko Petroleum, African Petroleum, Chevron, and Exxon Mobile, which had signed production sharing contracts with the Government of Liberia shut down their operations and left Liberia. There are nine blocks scheduled to be offered in the Harper Basin.
TGS was also involved in the 2014 bid round, which offered four blocks. Despite some interest from various international investors, no awards were ratified from the 2014 offering. In fact, many of the winning companies were unknown and they turned out to be as fraudulent as their bids – especially when they had to pay signature bonuses.
Again, NOCAL has been mired in controversies including the firing of the company’s entire staff back in 2015 when Robert Sirleaf, the son of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was heading the organization. NOCAL was never audited and the collapse of the company was never fully explained.
In Ivory Coast, four oil blocks are in production and 28 of the remaining 51 blocks are under exploration. Whereas, in Liberia, no commercial quantity of oil has ever been found.