The Liberian government is seeking interest from local companies on participating in the offshore licence round, which is due to open on April 10, while moving the launch event online in order to restrict coronavirus transmission.

The Liberian Petroleum Regulatory Authority (LPRA) set out plans to pre-qualify Liberian companies to take up 5% stakes in all petroleum agreements. The Petroleum Law has mandated 5% stakes be set aside for companies owned by Liberian citizens.

The equity stake could be carried or paid, the LPRA said, depending on the agreement reached between the various bidding companies. A list of pre-qualified Liberian companies will be made available to qualified international bidders in order to encourage partnerships.

Pre-qualification criteria for local companies are not similar to the criteria for international companies, the LPRA said. Applications for local companies opened on March 17 and will close on April 30. Results will be provided within two weeks of closing the application process.

Liberian companies are required to apply singly with a payment of $5,000. Beneficial owners must be disclosed, as must be financial records for the last two years. Companies are also asked to provide details of how they would fund financial obligations.

The LPRA has also changed how it intends to launch the licence round. The request for pre-qualification is due to begin on April 10 with the official launch on April 15. However, in response to the spread of coronavirus, the LPRA said it had opted to move the launch to a webinar, with an “exclusive list of delegates” and including speeches from Liberian President George Weah.

The country has 33 blocks in the offshore, with 24 blocks in the Liberia Basin and nine in the Harper Basin. The licence round will be focused on the nine blocks of the Harper Basin, Weah said in his state of the nation address in January.

The LPRA’s director-general Archie Donmo is due to present the Harper Basin round at the Africa E&P Summit, in London on May 20-21.

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