Lansana Fofanah: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 May 2019:
In order to give a fair chance to all intending oil and gas exploration companies, the Government of Sierra Leone through the Petroleum Directorate has re-opened the Fourth Offshore Licensing Round for oil and gas exploration.
The Fourth Licensing Round of oil and gas exploration in Sierra Leone was suspended in September 2018 by the Director General, after his appointment by His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio.
He was given the mandate to embark on a six-month consultative process with representatives of major and independent oil and gas companies on industries expectation regarding the Fourth Licensing Round.
Briefing journalists yesterday at the Headquarters of the Petroleum Directorate at Kingtom, Freetown, Director General Timothy Kabba said that his wide-range of consultation during the suspension, made companies to recognize the proven nature of Sierra Leone’s working hydrocarbon system.
License Round participants have considered a broad basis of prospective range of geographic locations, clay types and water depths and the conclusion drawn by the Directorate was that, conditions offered, pursuant to the original tender process no longer provide the Government of Sierra Leone with a structure broad enough to explore the full range of investor interest that has been expressed.
“Based on these conclusions, the GoSL has decided to reopen the country’s Fourth Licensing Round with the following structure: to fully open the Republic’s offshore waters for petroleum licensing, utilize a more flexible block framework as the basis for licensing, launch a Direct Tender for license application where 50% or more of the application area is in water depths in excess of 2,500 m and to launch an open tender for all other license applications,” he said.
Director Kabba said that they will have to access the capability and proven track records of any intending applicants who have undertaken similar water depth exploration in the past, before presenting anyone to Parliament for ratification or issuance of license.
He said that transparency and accountability have been a golden standard set by President Bio’s government and they have the responsibility to inform the people of Sierra Leone about their operations through the press.
He noted that environmental issues are mandatory to their operations and there is a well-established framework that guides every investor and community people are always engaged in every activity. He assured that under his tenure, Sierra Leone will start the exploration of oil for commercial use.