Major Corruption Risks In Liberia’s Oil Sector

September 26th, 2011

International oil companies such as the U.S. giant Chevron are beginning exploration off of Liberia’s coastline. However, this new research by Global Witness and Liberian Oil and Gas Initiative (LOGI) suggests that while Liberia has come a long way from the devastating set of resource-financed civil wars that claimed the lives of 250,000 people between 1989 and 2003, serious governance problems persist, and the warning signs for the emerging oil sector are stark.

Curse or Cure? How oil can boost or break Liberia’s post-war recovery shows that even before a discovery is made, there are deep-seated problems in Liberia’s oil sector: government officials and at least one company have paid bribes, contracts have been awarded illegally and companies with little experience in the oil sector have received concessions.

With a crucial election upcoming in October 2011, the new Liberian government and international donors have a choice. They can reform the country’s laws and government agencies so that Liberia’s people benefit from oil. Or they can allow Liberia to continue down its present path, undermining the country’s post-war reconstruction and risking a return to the corrupt, unstable resource management that has characterized Liberia’s history. This report sets out the problems and makes recommendations for what needs to be done.

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