MONROVIA: Amid perceptions and speculations in some quarters of the Liberian society and the media that oil has been found here, experts have disclosed that the country’s oil and gas potential is still uncertain.
According to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Lands, Mines and Environment, Cletus Wortorson, and the Country Manager of Chevron- Liberia, Mr. Karl Cottrell, information widespread in the public that Liberia has oil is far from the reality.
Chevron is one of the world's leading integrated energy companies.
Both men made the disclosure on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at an ongoing seven-day training forum for the Liberian media on the oil and gas sector, and nature resources.
The forum, which is organized by the by International Institute of ICT Journalism (Penplusbytes), is being held at the iLab and Corina Hotel in Sinkor, Monrovia. It brings together seven Liberian journalists. The seven journalists, including this writer, were selected among 40 journalists, who initially applied for the training. It is held under the theme: “Empowering the media to play active role over the oil and gas revenue and resources.”Penplusbytes is an organization that seeks to empower the media through ICT.
Senator Wortorson, who is also a Geologist by profession, however, pointed out that the potential of oil discovery here is at 70%, but maintained that no oil has been found yet.
“We have the source rock, the structures or containers for oil are there. We are hopeful, but there is no oil yet,” said the Liberian energy expert.
The former Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate observed that the oil and gas industry is a new phenomenon, and therefore, there is a need to provide proper information surrounding the sector.
Said the Liberian energy expert: “Discovery of oil and gas is a geographic and scientific issue.
It is not just anything that one can guess overnight that oil is found.
This is an issue that involves geological, geographical and geochemical methods. Once again, as I have said before, we have very high potential for oil,” but it doesn’t mean that we now have oil.
“From the structures that we have here, when oil is found, we could compete with the Middle East. Our structures are high as those structures in the Middle East,” he stated.
Senator Wortorson, who represents Grand Kru County in the upper House of the Liberian Legislature, is also a former Minister of the Ministry of Lands Mines and Energy and Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC).
Senator Wortorson and Mr. Cottrell said information making rounds that oil production has begun is false and misleading.
Mr. Cottrell disclosed that there is no commercial discovery of oil in Liberia yet as being speculated or claimed by the public and the media.
“I have heard on the radio; read in the newspapers that oil has been found here. I want to say that is completely false. That is not true,” the Chevron Liberia boss clarified.
Like other companies, he disclosed that Chevron is on the drilling of wells. Asked about the results of those wells it is drilling or already drilled, he declined comment saying: “No comment, I can’t tell you the results of our wells.”
Upon these backdrops, the Executive of the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI), Mr. Silas Siakor, who also at the forum, warned Liberians to lower their expectations on the oil and gas industry.
The SDI boss urged the Liberian media to do more investigations in a bid to inform the larger public.
If much information is not given out, Mr. Siakor further warned, there could be chaos in the future regarding this sector as people might have unrealistic expectations.