Zenith Energy has launched international arbitration in Paris against state-owned Entreprise Tunisienne d’Activités Pétrolières (ETAP).
Zenith CEO Andrea Cattaneo described the move as “deeply regrettable”. He said this was the second arbitration case launched by Zenith. The company has carried out “conservative seizures against ETAP following failures to satisfy contractually binding payments for oil production”.
In July, the company announced the seizure of $6.5 million in a Swiss bank account, owned by ETAP.
The arbitration will be pursued at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). Zenith launched its first arbitration case against Tunisia in June this year, at Washington DC’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
Zenith is claiming at least $48 million under the ISCID case. It did not specify a value for the separate ICC proceedings.
The company said ETAP had failed to comply with its contractual obligations. ETAP did not pay for oil produced and sold by a Zenith subsidiary.
Explaining its ICSID case, Zenith said the case focused on the Sidi El Kilani and Ezzaouia concessions. The North African state had contravened the licences, Zenith said, and made “unjustified obstructions” on oil sales.
Zenith bought a 22.5% stake Sidi El Kilani in 2020 from Kufpec. It bought a 45% stake in Ezzaouia in 2021 from Candax Energy. ETAP holds the other 55% in Ezzaouia.
However, according to Tunisian authorities, ETAP holds the entirety of both licences.
The most recent development on the ICSID case was the appointment of an arbitrator, Nassib G. Ziadé, in early September.
Zenith is also pursuing legal action in France against a drilling contractor for work in Congo Brazzaville.