Liberia announces Direct Negotiations for 33 offshore blocks
In keeping with provisions of the Amended New Petroleum Law, 2019, the Government of Liberia, through the Liberia Petroleum Regulatory Authority (LPRA, the Authority), working in collaboration with the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), announced its intention to open 33 offshore blocks (LB-1 to LB-33) for Direct Negotiations. These blocks cover the Harper and Liberia basins within the offshore Liberia acreage.
The Direct Negotiation process commenced on June 1st, 2021, and runs until May 31st, 2022. During this period, exploration companies can express their interest in any of the offered blocks. Applications will be processed on a continuous first-in exclusive basis. Applicants are requested to follow the processes outlined in the Direct Negotiations Investment Information Package and demonstrate their technical, and financial capacities, and subsequently to submit their best offers to undertake exploration on the desired blocks.
The Direct Negotiation process is framed through a 5-phase process including prequalification. Interested investors are required to satisfactorily complete each phase before transitioning to the next phase. LPRA will notify the applicants about the successful completion of each phase and approvals and requests to move to the next phase will be expressly communicated to the applicants. In keeping with the New Petroleum Law and its amendment, ONLY PRE-QUALIFIED companies will be invited to negotiate a Petroleum Sharing Agreement (PSC).
The Government of Liberia’s decision to offer blocks through Direct Negotiations is anchored on many significant factors including the recent investment climate, the latent impact of the energy transition, COVID-19 and its cascading effect on the sector, but also a developing investor appetite for frontier basins and the current position of Liberia within the oil and gas value chain.
While the 2020 bid round yielded positive and strong interests, the government believes that companies were challenged, based on numerous factors, in competition for offshore acreage. Therefore, the Government of Liberia, through LPRA, following a 6-month extension, has indefinitely suspended the 2020 bid round and opted for Direct Negotiations to extenuate the current hurdle faced by international exploration and production companies and to offer an attractive opportunity for investment in Liberia.
The Direct Negotiation offers a new investment opportunity for IOCs for several reasons. The region has experienced major geological discoveries with a range of multi-client data across this acreage including 50,487 kilometers of 2D and 31,350 square kilometers of 3D seismic, gravity and magnetic data, and well data. In addition, syn-rift and post-rift traps (both stratigraphic and structural) can be identified over much of the area, which offer multi-level prospectivity, with direct analogues to producing fields in neighboring basins. Also, modelling predicts the source rock maturity and expulsion post-dates the main tectonism in the basin, and regional seal presence is evident as in other West African Transform Margin analogues. Lastly, volumetric assessment of these features suggests field sizes over a billion barrels of oil in place could be present.