Zenith Energy Ltd shares jumped up on Wednesday after it announced a formal claim for $85.8 million in damages from the Republic of Tunisia over a blocked acquisition.
Shares in Zenith were trading 10% higher at 3.20 pence in London on Wednesday.
Zenith, an Africa and Italy-focused oil and gas company, has initiated the arbitration case through the International Chamber of Commerce or ICC in Paris.
The arbitration is being performed in parallel to Zenith’s two other arbitrations, one against Tunisian national oil company Entreprise Tunisienne d’Activites Petrolieres, or ETAP, for $6.5 million and the other also against the Tunisian government for ‘at least’ $48 million.
Zenith Overseas Assets Holdings Ltd had in late 2021 agreed to acquire a 100% stake in Canadian North Africa Oil and Gas Ltd, which at the time was a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corp.
However, Tunisia’s Ministry of Industry, Mines & Hydrocarbons ‘arbitrarily refused’ to recognise the acquisition, for ‘reasons unknown to [Zenith] and devoid of any legal grounding’.
Zenith’s reasons for the amount of damages includes Tunisia’s actions allegedly causing CNAOG to lose production revenue and associated profitability during a period of high energy prices from its 22.5% stake in the Sidi El Kilani or SLK concession.
‘It is again regrettable that we have been compelled to seek legal redress...for the very material commercial harm we have suffered because of the arbitrary conduct of the Tunisian authorities,’ commented Chief Executive Officer Andrea Cattaneo.
‘Zenith Energy is one of the few energy companies that invested in Tunisia in recent years during a period when most energy companies, irrespective of size, were actively seeking to leave the country.
‘The board is fully confident in the merits of the CNAOG ICC arbitration and will take all necessary action to ensure shareholders are fully compensated for the damage they have sustained.’
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