NewsNorth AfricaOil politics exposed in London court case


Posted on Thursday, 02 May 2013 16:08

Oil politics exposed in London court case

By The Africa Report

Photo©ReutersCultivating its image as a plucky independent Irish oil company that would do things differently, Tullow Oil has been slugging it out with Heritage Oil in London's High Court.

While Heritage seems to revel in founder Tony Buckingham's association with shadowy military figures, Tullow sponsors Sunderland FC in Britain's Premier league with an 'Invest in Africa' campaign on its shirts.

But after it emerged that Sunderland's new manager Paolo di Canio had told an Italian news agency "I am a fascist, not a racist", enthusiasm for the club is waning.

Tullow is suing fellow London-listed Heritage over a $400m tax bill linked to its $1.5bn purchase of two of Heritage's blocks in Lake Albert in Uganda in 2010.

In court, Heritage's lawyer referred to an email from Tullow's exploration director Angus McCoss that read: "I wouldn't be surprised if M7 [President Yoweri Museveni] gets a fat wadge of election campaign money from some shadowy player for the rights to [oil exploration block] area 3A and that would be just the first."

Tullow accuses Heritage of "groundless mudslinging" and says it deeply regrets "the embarrassment caused to the president of Uganda by these false allegations and reports".

Aidan Heavey, Tullow's MD, wrote to President Museveni promising the company will take "all necessary action to clarify the facts to the public" after the court case ends.

In the meantime, new laws have come into force in Europe that require all oil, gas and mining companies to disclose any payments of over €100,000 to government.

The new rules were welcomed by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who said extractive companies would also benefit.

"When they benefit local communities, mining projects are more likely to win 'social consent'. In the long-run, this reduces political risk," Annan said●

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