We posted this blog on the 17th March, 2014 immediately following the African Petroleum Compnay (Gambia) Ltd lodged an arbitration request with the World Bank's International Center for Settlement of Investment Dispute. when Jammeh suddenly decided to terminate the corporation's exploration licences for Blocks 1 and Blocks 4. "for failure to meet the licence obligations of the licencees." Jammeh sooner thereafter and before the final conclusion of the arbitration panel's came out, he dropped his claim and reinstated the contract. This is part of an ongoing story that has not reached it final conclusion.
The arbitration request is in relation to the regime's notification of the termination of African Petroleum Gambia's exploration licenses over Blocks A1 and A4.
The regime of Yaya Jammeh in January this year terminated the contracts to the relevant Blocks claiming that the company violated Gambia's petroleum laws. In a press release issued by the Office of The President on January 6th, 2014, an unsuspecting and surprised Gambians were treated to yet another bizarre decision of termination in which the regime was accusing African Petroleum of "failure to meet the license obligations of the licensees."
According to the same release, the terminated licenses are for Blocks A1 and A4 licensed to African Petroleum Gambia Limited and Buried Hill Gambia BV as joint partners and Onshore Block Lower River licensed to Oranto Petroleum Limited.
This is the third time that the Jammeh regime has been taken to arbitration, after Alimeta and Carnegie Minerals. In the case of Alimenta, the regime had to end up paying $14 million for wrongful seizure of the company's Denton Bridge assets, a debacle that the groundnut sector has not recovered from since. Jammeh is at it again. This time with multinational oil companies that are literally floating in money and resources.
We have reached out to Buried Hill and Petroleum Gambia's parent company for details of the multiple arbitration requests to find out whether they were jointly filed, and if so, which of the three companies are involved in the arbitration. We have yet to hear from them.
Gambia's reputation as a safe investment destination has taken another hit. This time it may prove fatal. These oil companies have the resources to inflict serious and lasting damage to what's left of Gambia's battered image, and to the national treasury at a time when The Gambia can least afford it.
The oil companies will not sit idly by while Jammeh steals proprietary information of these companies after spending huge sums to reach this stage of the process.
We will, of course, continue to follow the story and related developments.