Liberia is inviting international companies to bid for offshore oil production licenses as it grapples with an Ebola fever outbreak.
LONDON, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Liberia is inviting international companies to bid for offshore oil production licences as it grapples with an Ebola fever outbreak, which is crippling its economy and has already caused one oil major to delay a project.
The West African country does not produce any oil or natural gas but it hopes to tap into potential reserves offshore in deep and ultra-deep waters, following the example of its neighbour Sierra Leone and African oil giants Nigeria and Angola.
The oil and gas block licensing round will be held under a new contract to fit with Liberia's new petroleum bill, which is expected to be passed in late November this year.
The round offers four offshore blocks, relinquished by other companies. It was launched on Aug. 5 and will close on Oct. 31, Liberia's state oil company NOCAL announced on its website.
The opening of the country's potential rests on the passing of a new oil law, which once ratified, will open up another 13 previously unexplored blocks.
Liberia's petroleum bill has been in development since 2013. The Senate gave its approval but it still needs to be passed by the House of Representatives, which is expected to be done in late November 2014.
Owing to the high cost of drilling in deep water Liberia is offering more flexible terms than other African producers to attract foreign oil firms, a NOCAL board member told Reuters.
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