India’s ONGC files arbitration claim against Sudan over unpaid oil dues

India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corp’s acquired a 25 percent stake in the Greater Nile Oil Project in Sudan in 2003. (Reuters)
Updated 17 April 2018
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India’s ONGC files arbitration claim against Sudan over unpaid oil dues

NEW DELHI: The foreign acquisition unit of India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corp’s (ONGC) has filed an arbitration claim against the government of Sudan in a London court, a company official said, seeking to recover dues pending for years from a project hit by the breakaway of South Sudan in 2011.
People familiar with the matter in India and Sudan said ONGC had filed a claim for $98.94 million, in what they said was a first for the South Asian nation’s top oil and gas explorer against any government. They declined to be identified because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter with media.
At the center of the dispute is ONGC’s 25 percent stake the company acquired in the Greater Nile Oil Project (GNOP) in Sudan in 2003. Other stakeholders include China’s China National Petroleum Corp. with a 40 percent stake and Malaysia’s Petronas with a 30 percent share.
“Yes, we have filed an arbitration as our dues have been pending for years,” said N. K. Verma, managing director of ONGC Videsh Ltd. (OVL). “Notwithstanding this arbitration we will continue to work with Sudan going forward,” he said, declining to provide details on the timing and location of any hearings, or the amount being sought.
The current arbitration is only for a part of pending dues that add up to about $425 million, sources said, adding ONGC has sued the government as the contracts were backed by sovereign guarantees.
ONGC will also file arbitrations for the remaining outstanding amount in due course, said a company official, who declined to be identified.
Officials in Sudan said contacts and negotiations with ONGC were being lined up.
“We have addressed the company (ONGC) to show our commitment to serious negotiation and we (have) set up a committee to determine the time frame to pay back the sum in installments,” said Bekheet Ahmed Abdullah, under-secretary for Sudan’s Petroleum Ministry.
OVL’s stake in the Greater Nile Oil Project comprised Blocks 1, 2 and 4, and the firm also agreed to build a 1,500-kilometer pipeline to Port Sudan on the Red Sea. But in 2011 South Sudan broke away from Sudan, after decades of civil war, and took control of blocks 1A, 1B and a part of block 4.


Mideast plays key role in Chinese export of armed drones, report says

Updated 17 December 2018
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Mideast plays key role in Chinese export of armed drones, report says

  • China has exploited America’s selective drone export policy to become an increasingly influential player in meeting demand
  • The report is entitled “Armed Drones in the Middle East: Proliferation and Norms in the Region”

BEIRUT: The use of armed drones in the Middle East, driven largely by sales from China, has grown significantly in the past few years with an increasing number of countries and other parties using them in regional conflicts to lethal effects, a new report said Monday.
The report by the Royal United Services Institute, or RUSI, found that more and more Mideast countries have acquired armed drones, either by importing them, such as Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, or by building them domestically like Israel, Iran and Turkey.
China has won sales in the Middle East and elsewhere by offering drones — otherwise known as UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles — at lower prices and without the political conditions attached by the United States.
The report , entitled “Armed Drones in the Middle East: Proliferation and Norms in the Region,” said that by capitalizing on the gap in the market over the past few years, Beijing has supplied armed drones to several countries that are not authorized to purchase them from the US, and at a dramatically cheaper price.
“China, a no-questions-asked exporter of drones, has played and is likely to continue playing a key role as a supplier of armed UAVs to the Middle East,” it said.
The report explored where and how each of the states have used their armed drones and whether they have changed the way these countries approach air power. It found that Iran, the UAE and Turkey all changed the way they employ airpower after they acquired armed drones.
For Turkey and the UAE, armed drones enabled them to conduct strikes in situations where they would not have risked using conventional aircraft, it said. Iran developed armed drones from the outset specifically to enable to project power beyond the reach of its air force, which is hamstrung by obsolete aircraft and sanctions, the report added.
The report said it remains to be seen whether and how the loosening of restrictions on the exportation of armed drones by the Trump administration will alter dynamics in the region.
“Nonetheless, proliferation in armed UAVs in the Middle East is unlikely to stop and could, in fact, even accelerate,” the report said.