(Monday, 11 September 2017 Issue)
Government officials in Banjul have denied that Africa Petroleum (AP) spent $60 million towards building of schools, hospitals and other infrastructure in the country.
“We are not aware of such investments. If they are claiming this, let them prove it,” Permanent secretary Madi Ceesay said yesterday afternoon.
“What we are aware of is the annual mandatory fees they pay for the license to us. Other costs will just go into their operations in the country, not towards building schools or hospitals,” Ceesay said.
Africa Petroleum has been engaged in talks with government. According to sources in AP, they were expecting official communications about their application to renew license in a form of a response from government by the 31st August which never came.
“We are moving on. We cannot engage in this cat-and-mouse game with AP. They applied for renewal and we refused them based on reasons,” Ceesay said.
Shareholders were confused and left nervous when the stocks fell by 5 to 10 per cent each day.
However, they remain optimistic that the stocks will rise between 2 to 300% should the government agree to renew their license.
The blocks in question were licensed to a company, Buried Hills, back in 2008. Africa Petroleum itself came into the picture in 2010 when they farmed into the Buried Hills licenses by taking over 60% of the interests
African Petroleum is an independent oil and gas exploration company with an equity interest in eight licences in four countries offshore West Africa (Senegal, The Gambia, Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone). The company’s assets are located in proven hydrocarbon basins in the West African Transform Margin and the Atlantic Margin.
Aberration in 2014
African Petroleum Gambia Limited acquired a 60 per cent interest in hydrocarbon licences covering exploration Blocks A1 and A4 offshore The Gambia via a farming 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.
As a renowned, multilateral treaty body formulated by the Executive Directors of the World Bank through the 1966 Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States, the ICSID proceedings provides for an extended initial exploration period and reinstates the licences in which African Petroleum held a 100 per cent interest.