Liberia has a budding oil and gas industry, what some would call a frontier state. Exploration activities have been taking place since the late 1960s with limited success. However, with the Jubilee discovery in Ghana and the Venus and Mercury discoveries in Sierra Leone, hopes are high in Liberia that their turn would come.
Typically, frontier states are only able to attract small oil companies to conduct exploration activities and it is always a vote of confidence in a country when major oil companies (think BP, Chevron, Exxon Mobil and Shell) show interest in investing in a country. That’s why when Chevron recently farmed into 3 blocks on the Liberian continental shelf, this signaled big things to come. It is safe to say that with the more recent discovery at the border between Liberia and Sierra Leone as indicated earlier, other major companies will show interest and invest in the Liberian oil and gas industry.
Even more important in this context is to have the local capacity that is able to administer this industry and here, Liberia is on the right path. Like their Ghanaian counterparts, the Liberians managing the industry (primarily the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy and the National Oil Company of Liberia-NOCAL) despite needing additional capacity, have been very focused and dedicated to making this sector work for the benefits of the citizens of the country by ensuring that each licensing round is conducted carefully and by having the contracts ratified by Parliament even though the Petroleum Act does not require it. The Liberians have also sought assistance where they need it and as exploration continues and additional companies show interest, there is no doubt that the Liberian oil and gas industry is in good hands.