Liberia Extends Deadline for Bids on New Oil Blocks

LONDON (Dow Jones Newswires), May 15, 2008

Liberia has extended the deadline for bids on new offshore oil blocks by one month to July 1, an official from the National Oil Company of Liberia told Dow Jones Newswires Thursday.

The bid round, which was launched in December and was originally scheduled to remain open for six months, was being extended in the hope it might garner interest from more companies, Jacob Saa Sandikie, vice president of technical services at NOCAL, said by telephone from Monrovia.

In the country's first licensing round following the end of Liberia's civil war in 2003, the country's interim government awarded exploration rights to Repsol YPF SA (REP), Australia's Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL.AU), U.K.-based Regal Petroleum Plc, Broadway Consolidated Plc based on the Isle of Man, and Nigeria's Oranto Petroleum.

Those contracts were re-examined as part of a larger review of deals signed by the interim government, when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took office in early 2006. The review has re-negotiated terms in some cases and required all contracts to be brought before parliament for ratification.

The contracts with Repsol, Woodside and Regal have passed the Senate and are shortly expected to be voted on by the lower house, Saa Sandikie said.

The contracts with Broadway and Oranto were re-negotiated and approved by parliament earlier.

Final approval by parliament is expected to prompt a resumption of stalled exploration activities on the blocks.

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