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$915m Vitol/Eni Ghana suit: Refrain from immature decisions in future – Minority to Govt

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The Minority in Parliament has cautioned the Akufo-Addo administration to exercise prudence and avoid making rash decisions in the future, in light of the court’s ruling on the $915 million lawsuit brought by Eni Ghana and Vitol Upstream against Ghana.

They urged the government to learn from this experience and adopt a more thoughtful and informed approach to decision-making.

The International Arbitration Tribunal in the Eni & Vitol versus Ghana and Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) arbitration issued its final award, bringing a somewhat 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.

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

According to the Tribunal, 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 own legal fees and costs.

However, the Tribunal held that Ghana should pay 50 per cent of the amount paid by claimants to the Swedish Chamber of Commerce, which amounts to €189,000.

The claimants were denied any interest in respect of the costs of €189,000.

The Minority, in a statement signed by John Abdulai Jinapor, Ranking Member of the Mines and Energy Committee, urged the government to promptly intervene and facilitate a peaceful resolution to the dispute between Springfield, Vitol, and ENI.

This, they believe, will prevent potential losses and mitigate any adverse impact on Ghana’s oil and gas sector.

“With this statement, we call on the Government to refrain from such unfortunate and immature decisions in the future. We urgently call on the President to intervene and seek an amicable resolution to the impasse between Springfield and ENI to avert any further deterioration and losses in the country’s oil and gas sector.”

The Minority lambasted the government for misrepresenting the facts, accusing Attorney General Godfred Dame of making comments that blatantly contradicted the court’s ruling.

They alleged that the government’s narrative is a deliberate attempt to distort the truth and mislead the public.

“The Minority has noted with grave concern the false and distorted narrative put out by the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia Government through the office of the Attorney General to the effect that Ghana has won the legal case between the ENI/Vitol and the Republic of Ghana, represented by the National Oil Company (GNPC), at the International Court of Arbitration (ICA) in London. Such contrived narratives constitute gross misrepresentations and must be treated as such.”

The Minority also criticised the government for the humiliation and embarrassment inflicted upon the nation, criticising their actions as a disgrace to the country.

“We wish to state that we hold President Akuffo-Addo and his NPP Government directly responsible for this embarrassing spectacle, which only has the potential of further jeopardising the potential gains of Ghana’s upstream oil sector.”

Read below the statement by Minority

PRESS STATEMENT

For Immediate Release

9th July, 2024

STATEMENT ON ENI/VITOL VS GOVERNMENT FINAL RULING BY THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF ARBITRATION

The Minority has noted with grave concern the false and distorted narrative put out by the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia Government through the office of the Attorney General to the effect that Ghana has won the legal case between the ENI/Vitol and the Republic of Ghana, represented by the National Oil Company (GNPC), at the International Court of Arbitration (ICA) in London. Such contrived narratives constitute gross misrepresentations and must be treated as such.

It will be recalled that ENI initiated a legal process against the Republic of Ghana at the International Court Of Arbitration following attempts by then Minister of Energy, Mr Peter Amewu, to impose a unitisation agreement on ENI’s Sankofa field in the Offshore Cape Three Points(OCTP) block and Springfield Energy’s Afina discovery in the West Cape Three Points 2 Block.

Contrary to the statement put out by the Attorney General’s office, the International Court of Arbitration, in its ruling, states explicitly in paragraph 489 of page 144 that:

i. The Republic of Ghana breached the Petroleum Agreement by issuing the Unitisation Directives in the circumstances in which they were issued;

ii. Declares that each Party shall bear its own costs;

iii. Orders the Republic of Ghana to pay to ENI Ghana Exploration and Production Limited and to Vitol Upstream Ghana Limited EUR189,900 for the costs of the Tribunal and SCC.

Given the above ruling, it is clear that the ICA rules against the Republic of Ghana, with the court affirming that the Government of Ghana’s directive on the unitisation was contrary to the applicable regulations and a clear breach of Article 26(2) of the Petroleum Agreement. With this ruling, therefore, the directive on unitisation by the Akuffo-Addo government stands null and void and has no effect.

It is unfortunate that despite the caution by the Minority in Parliament and other Civil Society Organisations to this NPP Government to hasten slowly on this particular issue, the Government was adamant. In the circumstances, all our genuine advice, as usual, fell on deaf ears and was ignored. We wish to state that we hold President Akuffo-Addo and his NPP Government directly responsible for this embarrassing spectacle, which only has the potential of further jeopardising the potential gains of Ghana’s upstream oil sector.

It is instructive to note that, despite inheriting three (3) oil fields from the Mahama administration, this NPP Government has added nothing significant to the oil sector; on the contrary, oil production has declined by about 32% under the current NPP administration.

Regrettably, most of the major oil-producing companies have either exited the country or slackened on their upstream activities because most investors currently view Ghana as a hostile and unfriendly business destination under this inept Akuffo-Addo/Bawumia government.

The Minority wishes to use this opportunity to acknowledge and commend Springfield (an indigenous Ghanaian Company) and ENI/Vitol for their significant investments in Ghana’s upstream oil sector. In the spirit of cooperation and ultimate benefit, we wish to encourage ENI/Vitol and Springfield to work towards finding common ground for a harmonious resolution of the impasse unnecessarily created by the Akuffo-Addo/Bawumia Government.

With this statement, we call on the Government to refrain from such unfortunate and immature decisions in the future. We urgently call on the President to intervene and seek an amicable resolution to the impasse between Springfield and ENI to avert any further deterioration and losses in the country’s oil and gas sector.

Thank you.

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