African Petroleum still seeking arbitrator for Senegal case

African Petroleum (AP) is looking for an alternative arbitrator for its arbitration proceedings in Senegal after a potential conflict was identified for its previous nominee. The Senegalese government has not appointed an arbitrator either. 

To remind, AP registered a request for arbitration proceedings with ICSID on July 11, 2018 to protect its interests in the Senegal Offshore Sud Profond (SOSP) and Rufisque Offshore Profond (ROP) blocks in Senegal, following an unsuccessful attempt to resolve a dispute with the country’s government.

AP and the Senegalese government are entitled to each nominate an arbitrator, with a third arbitrator (the President of the tribunal) nominated by the two appointed arbitrators. Once all three arbitrators are appointed, the tribunal is formally constituted.

The company nominated Emmanuel Gaillard from Shearman & Sterling as an arbitrator and on October 4, 2018 and Gaillard accepted his appointment. Following Gaillard’s appointment, a potential conflict was identified and it was mutually agreed that he should withdraw his appointment, which he did on October 22, 2018.

The company said on Thursday it is now in the process of nominating an alternative arbitrator who is expected to be confirmed shortly.

No arbitrator has been appointed for the Senegalese government either.

It is also worth mentioning that Senegal’s Petrosen recently started seeking tenders for two blocks offshore Senegal, including the SOSP block, which is currently the subject of the arbitration process.

African Petroleum holds a 90% operated working interest in the SOSP block and the National Oil Company Petrosen holds the remaining 10% equity.

AP in October wrote to the Senegalese authorities reminding them of the company’s rights under the SOSP production sharing contract. According to AP, the Senegalese authorities still have not removed the SOSP block from the tender process and accordingly the company is reviewing its legal options under the PSC and ICSID rules, including interim measures.

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