The Acting Director General of Petroleum Directorate, Mr. Raymond S Kargbo, has said that Sierra Leone will greatly benefit from oil exploration. The Acting Director made this statement whilst speaking at Open Government Initiative’s (OGI) talk show “Have Your Say in Governance” on the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Cooperation (SLBC). According to Mr. Kargbo, the government has developed a petroleum policy to use the country’s petroleum resources equitably and efficiently for the accelerated development of the country and improvement of the quality of life of the current and future generations of the country.
He further revealed that a British foreign company TGS NOPEC has acquired 5,800 line kilometers of seismic survey off shore Sierra Leone, adding that the area was divided into seven blocks, each approximately 4.500sq km. He said the petroleum and Exploration Act makes it mandatory for all companies to pay 30% tax, surface rental, resource rental tax and royalty. Mr. Kargbo went on that oil and gas are non-renewable resources, but exploitation and utilization shall therefore be managed in a manner that creates durable and sustainable social and economic development for Sierra Leone. The Ag. Director furthered stated that his institution has carried out a competitive bidding process, further noting that about thirty companies applied for exploration. He said some Sierra Leonean Companies also applied but the process is capital intensive. The Petroleum Directorate, he went on, organized a road show in Houston Texas and London to advertise the bidding, adding that off-shore exploration does not involve dredging. He used the forum to inform that his institution is working closely with the Environmental Protection Agency, adding that they will ensure that all companies wishing to undertake drilling must present environmental impact assessment plan. He said they have also put a concept together to educate the people about the activities of his institution. For her part, the Director of OGI, Madam Khadija Sesay, said the mandate of her institution is to expose government to scrutiny to improve performance standard. She said experiences from Nigeria have shown that petroleum activities can lead to demographic shifts within the country leading to pressure on limited infrastructure and social services in areas of petroleum activities. According to her, the petroleum sector can have serious negative impact on the health and safety of the citizens and communities, and on long term social and environmental sustainability. Also speaking in the programme, Mrs. Harriet Turay who represented civil society said the petroleum factor is a new phenomenon in the country and people do not know the dynamics of the petroleum industry. She said the people must be adequately informed about the process and they should have a stake in it.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.