April 7, 2023
ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) has won a $190 million arbitration award against Sudan in a protracted dispute over oil and pipeline payments, a media report said. OVL, the overseas arm of the state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), has sent a reminder to the Sudanese government for payment, the report said, adding that the company has not yet gone to court, hoping to recover the funds, but instead sought to recover the funds through diplomatic channels. OVL initiated arbitration proceedings against the Sudanese government five years ago to recover its oil and pipeline construction fees, the report said. The Indian company owns a 25% stake in the joint venture operating blocks 2A and 4 in Sudan. Other stakeholders include China National Petroleum Corporation, Petronas of Malaysia and Sudapet of Sudan. The Sudanese government took more than its fair share of oil without paying for it. The payments have been accumulating since 2011, the report said. A few years ago, OVL withdrew from the block and engaged in arbitration, ET said. OVL initiated two arbitration proceedings to recover its oil costs. A UK court upheld its $90 million claim, ET reported. In the second case, OVL received a $300 million claim, but the award has not yet been finalised. The case will go to trial in July, the report said. In the third case, OVL also seeks to pay for a pipeline built more than 15 years ago in the northeastern African country with Indian Oil. The Dubai-based court upheld the Indian company’s $98 million claim, the report said. The report added that further hearings would be required if the interest applied to the principal is maintained. Sudan has been in dire financial straits for many years, and OVL will find it difficult to enforce the ruling. The report said it could go to court and seek to seize Sudanese government assets in different countries to collect dues, just as Cairn Energy did against India in its 2021 retrospective tax case. However, as of now, OVL appears to rely on diplomatic channels. OVL acquired a stake in the Greater Nile Petroleum Project in 2003, which includes Blocks 1, 2 and 4, about 800 kilometres from Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. The report said the blocks were divided between South Sudan and Sudan after South Sudan became an independent state in 2011.
Source: Equity Pandit