December 5, 2014

Clyde & Co advises African Petroleum in successful outcome to ICSID proceedings

Clyde & Co has secured a successful outcome to proceedings at ICSID for listed client, African Petroleum. The two cases brought at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) against the Republic of The Gambia concerned The Gambia's cancellation of two offshore oil licences.

Settlement of the cases was reached after The Gambia reinstated the licences last week.

The cases ran in parallel before an Arbitral Tribunal chaired by Jan Paulsson, with co-arbitrators Alexis Mourre (nominated by African Petroleum) and Loretta Malintoppi (nominated by The Gambia).

Maurice Kenton, international arbitration partner at Clyde & Co, was assisted by senior associate Simon Schooling. The team instructed Klaus Reichert SC of Brick Court and worked alongside Clyde & Co corporate partner, Philip Mace, an oil & gas specialist.

The factual background is that African Petroleum Gambia Limited acquired a 60 per cent interest in hydrocarbon licences covering exploration Blocks A1 and A4 offshore The Gambia via a farmin agreement with Buried Hill Gambia BV in 2010.  The first exploration period for the Gambian licences expired on 31 December 2013 and, notwithstanding prior efforts to secure amendments to those terms, in January 2014 The Gambia issued letters purporting to terminate the licences. African Petroleum Gambia Limited disputed these actions and commenced separate arbitrations at ICSID in relation to each licence in February 2014.

The settlement of the ICSID proceedings provides for an extended initial exploration period and reinstates the licences in which African Petroleum now holds a 100 per cent interest following its acquisition, in the summer, of the remaining 40 per cent interest from its former farmin partner.

Maurice Kenton, said: "This is an important result for our client who is pleased once again to be working with the Government of The Gambia and we are naturally delighted that these disputes have been settled on a very positive basis for all concerned."

In Africa Petroleum's own press release, its Chief Executive Officer, Dr Stuart Lake, commented:

"We are delighted that The Government of the Republic of The Gambia has reinstated Alhamdulilah Licence Block A1 and Licence Block A4. The Company looks forward to continuing its exploration efforts on this highly prospective acreage, particularly in light of the recent oil discoveries made by Cairn Energy nearby in Senegal."

Clyde & Co has considerable experience of acting on international arbitrations arising from all aspects of natural resources in the world's resource rich markets; and has a long established reputation for advising companies operating in emerging markets and fast developing environments. London-based Maurice Kenton has particular experience of disputes relating to African countries. This year he led the launch of Clyde & Co's offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town, which will support the firm's work throughout Africa.

Please contact Maurice Kenton for more information:

Maurice Kenton
T +44 (0) 20 7876 6520