The parties to a landmark case involving three offshore gas blocks in Mtwara Region of Tanzania have failed to settle an out of court a deal under which businessman Moto Mabanga claims to have been ‘frog-marched’ on orders of his partners in three foreign-owned companies in his own established gas exploration turf.
Judge Haruna Songoro, who was conducting the mediation proceedings before the High Court’s Commercial Division last week, ordered that the matter be determined upon merits, with the parties being required to call on witnesses to support their respective positions.
He returned the case file to the judge in charge for reassignment and rejected attempts by one of the foreign companies, BG Tanzania Limited, to withdraw from the dispute.
Other contenders are Ophir Energy PLC and Ophir Services PTY Limited. A Royal Dutch Shell representative has been attending the proceedings to monitor “what is going on” because it acquired the controlling stake of BG’s 60 per cent stake in the disputed blocks.
Mr Mabanga claims to have been ignored by RDS Chief Executive Officer, Ben van Beurden, when his lawyers, led by advocate Gabriel Mnyele, cautioned the oil and gas giant conglomerate about the case, and interest yet to be determined at the Commercial High Court.
In the suit, Mr Mabanga asks for the appointment of competent global oil and gas experts to determine the value of his entitlement in the three gas Blocks One, Three and Four in Southern Tanzania. He claims to have been ‘fraudulently deceived ‘ in order to surrender his interests in these blocks.
According to him, he was coerced into signing a termination agreement to receive an undervalued consideration of $7.5 million, thus depriving him of his rights to own property on fair payment and was forced out of the new corporate setup by xenophobic means because he was an African.
Ophir Energy PLC and Ophir Services PTY Limited are alleged to have not disclosed to Mr Mabanga the actual and potential value of oil and gas in the blocks and gave false reasons unfair to him and applied unfair valuation methods to determine the value of his interest.
It is alleged further that Ophir Energy PLC and Ophir Services PTY Limited did not disclose to Mr Mabanga the transaction with BG Tanzania Limited and the amount that the latter was paying for assignment of 60 per cent interest in the blocks.
Given the recent disclosure by the companies of the sale of 20% interests in Pavilion Energy Pte Limited at $1,288,000,000, the value of the three blocks is $6,440,000,000, thus BG Limited must have paid a large amount for the 60% interests.
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