ENI/VITOL Dispute: International Arbitration Tribunal dismisses $915 million suit against Ghana and GNPC


The International Arbitration Tribunal in the case of Eni and Vitol versus Ghana and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) has issued its final award, yielding a positive outcome for Ghana.


Initially, the Claimants, Eni and Vitol, sought $7 billion in monetary damages, which was later reduced to $915 million plus interest by the conclusion of the proceedings. However, the Tribunal denied their claim for these damages.


The Tribunal dismissed all claims against GNPC and rejected the Claimants’ request to declare that Ghana breached the Petroleum Agreement by “refusing to withdraw or prevent reliance by third parties on the Unitisation Directives.” Additionally, the Tribunal dismissed the Claimants’ request for Ghana to inform the High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court of Ghana that the Unitisation Directives were issued in breach of the Petroleum Agreement.


While the Tribunal found that “in the circumstances in which they were issued,” the Unitisation Directives did breach the Petroleum Agreement, it noted that the unitisation was contrary to the applicable regulations, thereby violating Article 26(2) of the Petroleum Agreement. Nevertheless, the Tribunal affirmed Ghana’s sovereign right to unitise oil fields for the efficient exploitation of deposits.


Regarding fees and costs, the Tribunal decided that since both Parties had partial victories, each would bear their own legal fees and costs.


Responding to the award, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, expressed mixed feelings. He acknowledged a preference for a complete dismissal of the claims against the Republic but expressed satisfaction with the Tribunal’s rejection of claims against Ghana and the dismissal of all monetary compensation claims by Eni and Vitol. He highlighted that this decision saves Ghana from a significant financial burden.


Attorney-General Dame also welcomed the Tribunal’s affirmation of Ghana’s sovereign right to unitise its oil fields. He emphasized that although the unitisation principle is not unlawful, its implementation must adhere to applicable regulations, a point the Tribunal found lacking in this dispute.


Looking forward, the Attorney-General stressed the need to determine the best path for all parties involved. He reiterated his Office’s commitment to vigorously contesting international arbitration claims intended to impose judgment debt on the country. Recent victories against Beijing Everyway, Cassius Mining, and Messrs Micheletti Company Limited illustrate this resolve.


The Tribunal’s ruling marks a significant victory for Ghana, emphasizing the importance of regulatory compliance while affirming the country’s rights over its natural resources.

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