Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Cote d’Ivoire fights Ghana over TEN oil project. But A-G says Ghana has strong case

Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong — Attorney-General and Minister of Justice
Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong — Attorney-General and Minister of Justice
Ghana has received a copy of a formal application from Cote d’Ivoire which is asking the Special Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) to order Ghana to suspend all activities in the disputed areas.
The activities include fishing and exploration of oil.
A major project to be affected should Cote d’Ivoire’s application be upheld, is the exploration and exploitation works on the Tweneboah-Enyera-Ntoumme (TEN) project.
Such suspension, Cote d’Ivoire has aruged, should remain in force until the tribunal delivers its final decision on the Ghana-Cote d’Ivoire maritime boundary dispute currently pending before the court.
With such an application before the tribunal, all is set for the two countries to move into full legal battle over their maritime boundary.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, said the parties had a meeting with the Chairman of the Special Chamber in Hamburg, Germany, on February 18, 2015 to set out timelines for dealing with the entire case.
She explained that the application for provisional measures by Cote d’Ivoire would be opposed by Ghana, adding, “We have a very strong case and we intend to put up a strong opposition to that application. We are confident in the merits of our case and we believe it is grounded in international law and strongly believe that Ghana will prevail.”
According to her, the Special Chamber would probably rule on the application for provisional measures before the end of April 2015.
“On February 27, 2015, we received the application and we are preparing to oppose it,” she said.
The Special Chamber of the ITLOS is yet to fix a time for oral hearings of the application for provisional measures.
“Ghana has always been alert to this because Cote d’Ivoire had last year issued threats to stop us from working in the area and we are more than prepared to resist this application,” Mrs Appiah-Opong said.
Timetable out
She said the ITLOS had set out a timetable for the parties to deal with the entire case:
* September 4, 2015 — Ghana to file a written memorial (detailed statement of claim).
* April 4, 2016 — Cote d’Ivoire to file counter memorial (detailed defence).
* July 4, 2016 — Ghana to file reply to Cote d’Ivoire’s counter memorial.
* October 4, 2016 — Cote d’Ivoire to file rejoinder. 
* February 2017 will be for the oral hearings.
Tullow press release
Meanwhile, a press release from Tullow Oil (plc) said, “Tullow's advice from external counsel is that Ghana has a strong case under international law that the current boundary location, which follows an equidistance line, will be upheld by ITLOS in accordance with the Law of the Sea Convention, to which both states are party. Work on the TEN project continues and remains on schedule and on budget for first oil in mid-2016.”
The Chief Executive Officer of Tullow Oil, Mr Aidan Heavey, said: “Tullow has long had interests in and strong relationships with both Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire and we have conducted our operations in both countries in line with our obligations as a contractor under our petroleum agreements and in accordance with international operating standards. 
“Although the arbitration process allows for an application of provisional measures, it is our view that it is in the best interest of all parties that the TEN project continues to move ahead without delay and unencumbered by legal tactics of this nature.” 

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