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Central AfricaExploration & DevelopmentNewsOil & Gas

Congo digs in over renewal of billionaire Gertler’s oil permits

Democratic Republic of Congo and Dan Gertler are headed for a fight over the Israeli billionaire’s two oil blocks bordering Uganda.

Congo’s oil ministry sent a letter to Gertler’s Oil of DRCongo when the permits expired on June 16 asking for all data and payments related to the project’s 2010 production-sharing agreement.

Gertler’s company still controls the permits because they are under force majeure, a spokesman said by email. “As a result, there is no change to the status of the licenses and Oil of DRCongo has written to the Ministry of Hydrocarbons to confirm this,” he said.

Development of the two blocks on Lake Albert has been complicated by U.S. sanctions against Gertler for alleged corruption in his mining and oil deals in Congo. Gertler denies all wrongdoing and has never been charged.

Congo has discussed transferring the permits to several other oil companies, including Tullow Oil Plc, Total SE and Eni SpA. Total already controls the oil fields on the Ugandan side of the Lake. The French company signed a $5.1 billion deal with Uganda in April to develop a pipeline to ship the oil to a port in Tanzania.

Congo has yet to negotiate access to the proposed pipeline or to find an alternative way to ship the oil, which justifies the continuation of force majeure, the Oil of DRCongo spokesman said.

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