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Oslo Listed Oil Company Petronor Tightens Grip on Gambia

As Oslo listed Petronor Exploration and Production published earlier this week its interim Financial Report for the Half-year and Quarter ended 30 June 2020, the oil company has announced that it intends to continue with the pending arbitration case with The Gambia at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

Initially, the dispute was between Africa Petroleum Company and The Gambia after African Petroleum failed to achieve its license commitments on Block A1 and Block A4 offshore Gambia, which led the Gambian government to reclaim them. The Gambia government moved in 2017 to end talks with African Petroleum for the extension of exploration rights over blocks Block A1 and Block A4, stripping African Petroleum of its rights in the blocks.

Petroleum House- Gambia

In May 2019, Oil major BP struck an offshore exploration deal with the Gambia government for Offshore Block A1, previously held by African Petroleum. The company replied by stating that it still reserved its rights in relation to the A1 license and would continue with its efforts to protect its interest in the A1 license through an ongoing ICSID arbitration process which also includes arbitration for the A4 license.

It should be noted that while African Petroleum remained engulfed in the tug of war with the Gambia government, the company earlier in March 2019 agreed to combine with Oslo listed PetroNor for an all-share consideration of around 816 million shares in African Petroleum. PetroNor therefore acquired African Petroleum in August 2019, bringing with it all the legal cases amongst which the one involving The Gambia.

After months of legal wrangling with the Gambian government over contested title to prized deep-water acreage, Petronor remains confident of a favourable outcome. Oslo-listed PetroNor Exploration and Production says it will continue with its arbitration case before the ICSID according to the company’s chief executive officer Knut Søvold. “Before year end, we also anticipate final ratification of our entry into Aje in Nigeria and a resolution in Gambia and Senegal either through direct negotiation or an outcome for the arbitration case”, Knut Søvold said.

Knut Søvold

PetroNor has another arbitration dispute with Senegal over blocks that got stripped off from Africa Petroleum by the Senegalese government. In May however, PetroNor said the dispute with Senegal had been suspended until November. Meanwhile, the disagreement with The Gambia continues, although PetroNor said both parties are eager to reach a resolution. “The Company reserves its rights to the 100% operating working interest in the offshore licenses A1 and A4 comprising 2,672 km2. These blocks have a total unrisked potential of 5 billion barrels”, PetroNor’s management said.

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