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PetroNor, Senegal set aside arbitration for now

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Senegal and Oslo-listed PetroNor have reached an agreement to suspend arbitration for six months in a dispute focused on two offshore blocks.

PetroNor said the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) had been formally asked to suspend its work on the problem for six months. The move comes amid seemingly constructive talks between the two sides.

“This is a positive development that matches PetroNor’s strategy adopted since the merger with African Petroleum Corporation to seek an amicable solution in The Gambia and Senegal, refocus our resources and create value for the shareholders,” said PetroNor E&P’s chairman Eyas Alhomouz.

The agreement to put the dispute on pause “highlights a willingness of all parties to discuss reasonable settlement solutions. We thank the relevant authorities in Senegal for their pragmatism in reaching this mutual decision and hope to use this window of suspension to progress our dialogue and reach a firm agreement that benefits both PetroNor and Senegal.”

The dispute focuses on the Rufisque Offshore Profond (ROP) and Senegal Offshore Sud Profond (SOSP) licence areas.

Total struck a deal to explore the former block in May 2017. The French company drilled the Jamm 1X well on its block in early 2019 but this appears to have been unsuccessful.

The SOSP was included in Senegal’s licence round, launched in late 2019. PetroNor complained about its inclusion in the offering.

The licence round had been due to close in July but has been extended until September 30.

PetroNor acquired African Petroleum in August 2019, bringing with it a number of legal cases. African Petroleum failed to achieve its licence commitments on the blocks, which led the Senegalese government to reclaim them.

The company also has claims to two blocks in The Gambia where it is working on similar arbitration, also at ICSID.

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