Deal #1393

Location #1

Spatial accuracy level
Administrative region
Location
Grand Bassa, Liberia

Target country
Liberia
Comment on location
District 4. Located 24km from the port of Buchanan .

Land area

Intended size (in ha)
33241.0
Size under contract (leased or purchased area, in ha)
[2008] 33241
Size in operation (production, in ha)
[2012] 1200
[2014] 5600
Comment on land area
Allocation 13,962ha, expansion area 10,117ha, outgrower allocation 10,117ha. Company states that the "Palm Bay estate is 13,007 hectares of land as part of the concession as well as expansion areas totalling 20,234 hectares of which 50% is set aside for outgrower programmes. So in total it is 33,241 ha." Data sources state that the community won the protest to prevent the company from expanding its plantations in May 2014. This includes the retreat of the company from community land. However, the company is still demarcating planting blocks on community land (June 2014), without the consent from the community and in violation of international human rights law. The company states that this is not true and an MOU was signed with communities as to where oil palm can be planted on the estate. There are claims that the company owns a total of 169000 hectares in Liberia (see also #3461 and #1395). Another source (Frontpage Africa) states concession size is 34,398 hectares.

Intention of investment

Intention of investment
Agriculture unspecified

Nature of the deal

Nature of the deal
Lease
Comment on nature of the deal
50years total: 7 years rehabilitation, 43 years regular

Negotiation status

Negotiation status
[2008] Concluded (Contract signed)
Comment on negotiation status
The initial contract was signed with Liberian Operations Inc in 2007, however EPO acquired Liberian Operations Inc in January 2008. Portions of the Estate are located in a former palm oil plantation that was originally developed in the 1960s, and was abandoned during the civil wars (1989-2003).

Implementation status

Implementation status
[2012] In operation (production)
Comment on implementation status
Started by Getty Oil (Liberian Operations Inc) in 1968. Thousands of hectares of palm oil have been rehabilitated or newly planted (since 2014) as part of what the company termed ‘phase 1’ of 8370 hectares. The company now intends to expand in the phase 2 areas (An expansion area called ‘phase 2’ of another 4637 hectares ) according to resource persons in the villages around the plantation.

Leasing fees

Annual leasing fee
2
Annual leasing fee currency
US Dollar ($)
Annual leasing fee type
per ha
Comment on leasing fees
US$1.00/yr/developed ha, US$0.50/yr/undeveloped ha during rehabilitiation term (7 yrs). US$2.00/yr/developed ha, US$1.00/yr/undeveloped ha during regular term (43 yrs) In the period 1 July 2010 - 30 June 2011 the company paid US$23,177 for surface rental (=US$0.65/ha). Initially received a tax holiday of 7 years, in 2017 this was extended by another 5 years.

Contract farming

Contract farming
Yes
On leased / purchased area
Yes
On leased / purchased area (in ha)
10117

Contract #1

Contract date
2008-08-06
Duration of the agreement (in years)
40

Operating company

Operating company
Name of investment project
Palm Bay Estate

 

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Data source #1

Data source type
Contract
Open Contracting ID
ocds-591adf-6459881214

Data source #2

Data source type
Media report
File
Publication title
SDI calls on the Government of Liberia, Equatorial Palm Oil to immediately cease land survey in Grand Bassa District #4
Date
2013-09-25

Data source #3

Data source type
Personal information
Date
2017-04-10
Includes in-country-verified information
Yes
Comment on data source
"Palm Bay estate is 13,007 hectares of land as part of the concession as well as expansion areas totalling 20,234 hectares of which 50% is set aside for outgrower programmes. So in total it is 33,241 ha. MOU signed last year with communities as to where oil palm can be planted at Palm Bay estate."

Data source #4

Data source type
Media report
File
Publication title
L’expansion des plantations d’huile de palme stoppée au Liberia, by Sophie Chapelle.
Date
2014-03-27

Data source #5

Data source type
Media report
File
Publication title
'We want our land back': Liberian communities speak out about big palm oil
Date
2015-08-10

Data source #6

Data source type
Media report
File
Publication title
Resistance to Liberia landgrabs a warning to Africa investment conference
Date
2014-05-06

Data source #7

Data source type
Media report
File
Comment on data source
Friends of the Earth International- Media briefing May 2014. Liberian communities overturn Equatorial Palm Oil (EPO) land grab

Data source #8

Data source type
Media report
File
Publication title
Is Liberia's president going cold on the palm oil industry?
Date
2014-03-21

Data source #9

Data source type
Company sources
File

Data source #10

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
File
Comment on data source
Grain- Feeding the 1%, September 2014

Data source #11

Data source type
Company sources
File
Date
2012-03-15

Data source #12

Data source type
Company sources
File
Comment on data source
KLK Annual Report 2016

Data source #13

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
File
Comment on data source
Chain reaction research- PALM OIL FRONTIERS: Lessons Learned from SE Asian Corporate Expansion to Africa, October 2016.

Data source #14

Data source type
Government sources
File
Comment on data source
Leiti Reconciliation Report

Data source #15

Data source type
Company sources
File
Date
2012-02-28
Comment on data source
Hardman analysis

Data source #16

Data source type
Media report
File
Publication title
Communities protest that UK’s Equatorial Palm Oil is poised to seize land in Liberia
Date
2014-06-24

Data source #17

Data source type
Government sources
File
Date
2014-01-10
Comment on data source
Leiti post award process audit final report

Data source #18

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
File
Comment on data source
Grain- The global farmland grab in 2016: how big, how bad?

Data source #19

Data source type
Media report
File
Comment on data source
Company profile shareholders

Data source #20

Data source type
Contract
Open Contracting ID
ocds-591adf-3637126026
Comment on data source
LIBINC Oil Palm Inc., Tarlo, Blayah, Nuhn and Qlakpojelay, Social Agreement, 2007

Data source #21

Data source type
Media report
File
Publication title
Equatorial Palm Oil Exempt From Tax And Duties For Five More Years
Date
2017-03-17

Data source #22

Data source type
Media report
Publication title
Au Liberia, Equatorial Palm Oil double ses pertes au 1er semestre
Date
2019-05-14

Data source #23

Data source type
Media report
File
Publication title
We are angry
Date
2019-10-29
Comment on data source
Frontpage Volume 13 No 203

Data source #24

Data source type
Company sources
File
Publication title
EQUATORIAL PALM OIL PLC ANNUAL REPORT AND ACCOUNTS For the year ended 30 September 2019
Date
2019
Comment on data source
Annual report

Data source #25

Data source type
Media report
File
Publication title
Liberia's miracle oil brings farmers only empty promises
Date
2020-01-03

Data source #26

Data source type
Media report
File
Publication title
EPO wants to expand its Palm Bay Estate plantations into forests in Grand Bassa
Date
2019-10-29
Comment on data source
EPO wants to expand its Palm Bay Estate plantations into forests in Grand Bassa

Data source #27

Data source type
Research Paper / Policy Report
File
Publication title
Human Right Risk Assessment Equatorial Palm Oil’s Palm Bay Plantation Grand Bassa Country, Liberia

Names of communities / indigenous peoples affected

Comment on communities / indigenous peoples affected
EPO states it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with all affected communities, but Gmenee village people say they have not seen such agreement and do not have a copy. Joghban clan have successfully resisted further encroachment of EPO on their land for years.

Consultation of local community

Community consultation
Not consulted
Comment on consultation of local community
The company did not obtain the consent of the local community before clearing of the land commenced, as required by the law. In March 2014, the President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, sided with the local communities in halting the expansion of the plantations. The community lodged a complaint with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil on 18 September 2013, prior to holding a protest however they were violently attacked during the protest, arguably by the company's security. Other violent attacks on local communities members opposed to the development have occurred. The community won the battle against the company in May 2014, which forces the company to retreat from community land. The company states that this is not true and instead of retreat from community land, the company signed an MOU with the community detailing where the company is allowed to plant palm oil.

How did the community react?

Community reaction
Rejection
Comment on community reaction
The company was about to move forth with a survey of the remaining land, which many of the community members opposed because they already made the decision that they had no more land to give the company. Some of the villagers decided to present a petition to the Grand Bassa County supervisor, asking that the survey be prevented. Some villagers were beaten and detained for no reason. A spokesperson for the police confirmed sending their riot unit to confront and arrest some of the marchers, alleging that the marchers were threatening palm oil company property and the lives of its staffers. Four of the villagers involved in the conflict were hospitalized after the assault. There have been confrontations between EPO and the villagers in Grand Bassa County. Several communities inform SDI that EPO is continuously intimidating, threatening and dividing communities into signing away their land.

Presence of land conflicts

Presence of land conflicts
Yes
Comment on presence of land conflicts
Many violent attacks against community members who petition or fight back regarding the deal. On 28 October 2019. members assembled at the offices of Equatorial Palm Oil to express their frustrations over the company’s alleged failure to meet up with the Concession Agreement. The community feels as if their rights have been infringed by the company and its activities.

Promised or received compensation

Promised compensation (e.g. for damages or resettlements)
The company promised to dig wells for the local communities and bring in teachers and doctors. It also promised huge rewards if farmers agreed to the clearance of their land, at fixed amounts per plant for crops such as rubber and cassava.
Received compensation (e.g. for damages or resettlements)
The company promised to dig wells for the local communities and bring in teachers and doctors. To date the company has not upheld its commitments in this regard. For compensation for clearing their land, when the time came for payment EPO handed over less than 10% of what they were expecting.

Promised benefits for local communities

Promised benefits for local communities
Health
Education
Capacity Building
Comment on promised benefits for local communities
Education for children as well as school bus, adult literacy program and clinics. The company is also participating in the Smallholder Tree Crops Revitalisation Support Project- so far 54 farmers have been identified. the Concession Agreement also calls for the establishment of an adult literacy program for Liberians, the company has failed to live up to that portion of the agreement since 2013 and now owes the community US$150,000. Water hand pumps to be established for affected communities.

Materialized benefits for local communities

Materialized benefits for local communities
Capacity Building
Comment on materialized benefits for local communities
The company is also participating in the Smallholder Tree Crops Revitalisation Support Project- so far 54 farmers have been identified. the Concession Agreement also calls for the establishment of an adult literacy program for Liberians, the company has failed to live up to that portion of the agreement since 2013 and now owes the community US$150,000 (2019). Water hand pumps yet to be established for affected communities.

Presence of organizations and actions taken (e.g. farmer organizations, NGOs, etc.)

Presence of organizations and actions taken (e.g. farmer organizations, NGOs, etc.)
In March 2014, the President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, sided with the local communities in halting the expansion of the plantations. The community lodged a complaint with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil on 18 September 2013, prior to holding a protest however they were violently attacked during the protest, arguably by the company's security. The community won the battle against the company in May 2014, which forces the company to retreat from community land. The company states that this is not true and instead of retreat from community land, the company signed an MOU with the community detailing where the company is allowed to plant palm oil.

Former land use

Former land use
Commercial (large-scale) agriculture
Forestry
Comment on former land use
Some of the land was subject to rampant illegal logging during the clearing of the land.

Former land cover

Former land cover
Cropland
Forest land

Detailed crop, animal and mineral information

Crops area
[2019] Oil Palm (6470 ha)
Comment on crops
Palm Bay estate currently has 6,470 hectares ("ha") planted to oil palm, of which 5,156 ha is mature enough to be harvested for the extraction of CPO and other products at the mill at Palm Bay estate.A further 939 ha will be coming into maturity over the 2019/2020 financial year. The fresh fruit bunches (“FFB”) harvested had increased from 2,000 MT per month to in excess of 4,000 MT per month and the oil extraction rate had increased from 22% to 25%.

Use of produce

Has domestic use
Yes
Has export
Yes
Country 1
Nigeria

In country processing of produce

In country processing of produce
Yes
Comment on in country processing of produce
Palm oil production- the plant is only operational one day a week due to lack of fruit. The company is looking to acquire more land in the surrounding area.

Overall comment

Overall comment
Started by Getty Oils in the 1960s. High Carbon Stock Approach methodology is applied to new planting areas. Initially received a tax holiday of 7 years, in 2017 this was extended by another 5 years. Palm oil production- the plant is only operational one day a week due to lack of fruit. The company is looking to acquire more land in the surrounding area. Community claims company activities are polluting the streams and rivers in the surrounding areas.

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