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Int’l Arbitration Tribunal rules in favour of Ghana in Eni & Vitol case; $915m suit dismissed

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In a significant ruling, the International Arbitration Tribunal in the Eni & Vitol versus Ghana and Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) arbitration has issued its final award, bringing a positive outcome for Ghana.

The Tribunal denied the Claimants, Eni and Vitol, their monetary damages, which initially stood at $7 billion but were later reduced to $915 million plus interest by the end of the proceedings.

The Tribunal dismissed all claims against the GNPC entirely. Additionally, the Tribunal rejected the Claimants’ request to declare that Ghana breached the Petroleum Agreement by “refusing to withdraw or prevent reliance by third parties on the Unitisation Directives.”

The Tribunal also dismissed the Claimants’ request for Ghana to notify the High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court of Ghana that the Unitisation Directives were issued in breach of the Petroleum Agreement.

However, the Tribunal did find that “in the circumstances in which they were issued,” the Unitisation Directives breached the Petroleum Agreement.

Specifically, the unitisation was contrary to the applicable regulations, thereby breaching Article 26(2) of the Petroleum Agreement. Despite this, the Tribunal affirmed Ghana’s sovereign right to unitise oil fields to achieve efficient exploitation of the deposits.

Regarding the allocation of fees and costs, the Tribunal determined that since both Parties had prevailed in some respects, each would be required to pay their legal fees and costs.

Reacting to the Award, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, expressed a mix of satisfaction and caution. He noted that while he would have preferred a complete dismissal of the claims against the Republic, he was pleased with the Tribunal’s rejection of the claims against Ghana and the complete dismissal of all claims for monetary compensation made by Eni/Vitol against Ghana. This decision saves Ghana from a significant financial obligation.

Attorney-General Dame also welcomed the Tribunal’s affirmation of Ghana’s sovereign right to unitise its oil fields.

He emphasized that while the unitisation principle itself is not unlawful, the manner and circumstances under which it is carried out must comply with applicable regulations, a point the Tribunal found lacking in this dispute.

Looking ahead, the Attorney-General stressed the importance of determining the best way forward for all parties involved. He reiterated the Office’s commitment to vigorously contesting all international arbitration claims aimed at imposing judgment debt on the country.

Recent victories against Beijing Everyway, Cassius Mining, and Messrs Micheletti Company Limited underscore this resolve.

The Tribunal’s ruling marks a significant victory for Ghana, highlighting the importance of adherence to regulatory frameworks while affirming the country’s rights over its natural resources.

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