Zenith Energy Ltd. (LSE: ZEN; OSE: ZENA), the international energy production and development company, announces the formal submission of various legal proceedings against the Republic of Tunisia, with a total cumulative claimed amount of at least US$48 million.
Zenith’s fully owned subsidiaries (together, the “Investors”) have submitted a request for arbitration against the Republic of Tunisia before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington DC (“ICSID”) – (the “Arbitration”).
Background to the Arbitration
The request for Arbitration before the ICSID was submitted in accordance with article 8 of the Agreement signed between the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the government of the Tunisian Republic in 1989 for the Promotion and Protection of Investments.
The Arbitration has been launched following a series of actions undertaken by the Tunisian government to the material detriment of the commercial interests of the Investors in the Republic of Tunisia, including, inter alia, unreasonable and arbitrary obstructions in relation to the development of the Sidi El Kilani and Ezzaouia concessions.
More specifically, these include actions in contravention to, inter alia, the terms of the Sidi El Kilani and Ezzaouia licenses respectively, and unjustified obstructions for processing the sale of produced oil.
Prior to initiating the Arbitration, Zenith and its subsidiaries have, in good faith, applied their best efforts towards engaging constructively with the relevant bodies in the Republic of Tunisia to address these matters. However, in view of the unsuccessful nature of these efforts to date, the Investors have been compelled, to safeguard their commercial interests and legal rights, to launch the Arbitration.
The Investors have engaged Gide Loyrette Nouel, a legal firm with a specialisation in high-level dispute resolution, as legal counsel in connection with the Arbitration.
The Investors can confirm that, in the interests of preserving the Company’s cash reserves at a time of intensive expansion and development activity, they are in advanced negotiations with a specialist third-party litigation funder for a ‘no win-no fee’ financing arrangement to support all the costs in connection with the Arbitration.
The Board, based on due and careful consideration surrounding the merits of the Arbitration and specialist legal advice received, believes there will either be a successful outcome resulting from the Arbitration or there will be an amicable settlement in due course.
Update on Tunisian production and development portfolio
The Company can confirm that it continues to operate its production and development portfolio in the Republic of Tunisia, including the Robbana and El Bibane concessions which it holds directly with a 100% interest, whilst negotiations are ongoing with the local authorities in Tunisia with the objective of addressing the underlying causes of the aforementioned Arbitration.
The Robbana Concession is producing approximately 20-25 barrels of oil per day, with a total accumulation of approximately 8,000 barrels of oil in stock which is ready for sale subject to local export permissions being granted.
Production from the El Bibane Concession has been suspended due to necessary maintenance activities.
Further, for the avoidance of doubt, the Company maintains that its subsidiary’s 50 percent ownership of MARETAP, the joint operating company for the Ezzaouia Concession, remains unchanged.
In view of the sensitive nature of the ongoing proceedings and discussions, the Company will not be providing further comment until there are material updates.
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