Sierra Leone: Developing and improving the oil and gas sector across the country, Members of Parliament (MPs) on Thursday 1st April 2021 unanimously ratified several G-Blocks petroleum license agreements.
Presenting four agreements that were laid in Parliament on Thursday 25th March 2021, for scrutiny and possibly enactment, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Lawyer Anthony Y. Brewah maintained that these agreements establish a comprehensive regime in the petroleum industry. He disclosed that the license provides for the exploration, development and production of petroleum products in the license area covering total of approximately 11,516.6 sq.km for a period of thirty years.
According to him, this period of use is an undertaking from the licensee to comply with the good international petroleum industry practice while subjecting his business to the country’s laws and regulations, assuring that the project will provide huge opportunities for the people including job, procurement and purchasing, revenue, royalty and bonuses.
“Additionally three oil wells will be drilled at the end of the seven years exploration period which will give a total of 11 oil wells that the country will have,” he assured, disclosing that Ghana has 24 exploration oil wells with an output of eight billion barrels of oil. He said the company would invest $300,000 on corporate social responsibility on affected communities, explaining that it was made clear to the operating party that the development will not be used to discriminate against persons in the grounds of religious belief or political opinion.
Considering the ongoing rehabilitation exercise on the Parliament building, the presiding Speaker, Honourable Solomon Segepoh Thomas urged MPs to shorten the debate to limited number of contributors as the environment is not conducive for them to stay longer. He requested for only two debaters from each side of the Well while the Leaders summed up the debate.
Making his contribution Hon. Joseph Williams Lamin drew the attention of the House to Article 22 subsection 1 of the agreements which gives the State the responsibility to facilitate the implementation of the licenses and also protect the operations of the licenses, it employees and agents within the country.
He maintained that Parliament should ensure they provide protection of the document and projects they approve in the interest of development, suggesting for the full involvement of MPs in the process as a way of protecting the rights of the company and properties of the community people.
The Opposition Whip, Hon. Hassan Abdoul Sesay assured all they will always support good things in the interest of the people and country as the country stands to lose nothing in the agreement, disclosing that there are clauses protecting the interest of the State. He maintained that such investment will not only benefit people within the operational areas but also those residing in other areas across the country, explaining that involving MPs as part of the project will ensure security for both the people and investors, and assuring all they will not stop such development at this point in time because of political reason as development is all what they are asking for as the people’s representatives.
“It is better to deal with smaller companies for a start than having the big sharks, such as Shell Oil, Total, among others” he maintained, stating that these bigger sharks cannot be made to pay certain bonuses which these smaller companies are willing to do as a start of the projects.
The Leader of the Coalition for Change (C4C) in Parliament, Hon. Saa Emerson Lamina, maintained that the decision of the Attorney General to bring the agreements for ratification is a clear manifestation of working towards development, citing section 7 of the 1991 Constitution and noting if the country and people can handle it’s resources properly then there will be a booming economy.
He assured all that very soon the country will join the likes of Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and others enjoying the benefits from their petroleum output. He stated that Parliament is still waiting on Mining Lease Agreements to be presented by the Minister of Mines for ratification as the Attorney General had done with the agreements they are discussing.
The acting Opposition Leader, Hon. Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, said whenever they talk about oil and the prospect of mining oil in the country their hopes are raised, assuring all that once there is oil in the country, it will become a millionaire country as they have seen examples of countries the world over that are benefiting from their oil products.
According to him, the country has tried time and time again to begin the exercise of drilling oil, disclosing that he had benefitted by being part of these explorations when he boarded the oil exploration vessels to watch the actual process, which he maintained is very expensive. He said this company must have a communication license with NATCOM, as they will be communication with the outside world without the knowledge of the people, which has some security implication, assuring there is no controversy on the agreement as once they found oil the country’s economy will transform for better.
The Leader of Government Business, Hon. Mathew Sahr Nyuma, expressed appreciation to the Government and MPs for their contributions on the debate in the interest of development, assuring that they are always ready to woo investors to come particularly in the area of oil, which is very lucrative.
The following agreements were ratified by Parliament:
G-Blocks 96,97,114,115,116,117,133,134 and 135, Innonson Oil and Gas (SL) LTD, Petroleum Licence No.001/20
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