Petronas files for arbitration over Sudan’s assets seizure

The Malaysian Reserve | 8 October 2021

Petronas files for arbitration over Sudan’s assets seizure

By Priya Vasu and Anis Hazim

PETROLIAM Nasional Bhd (Petronas) has led a request for arbitration at the International Centre for Settlement of Dispute (ICSID) in the absence of positive development on Sudan’s transitional government’s decision to confiscate the company’s assets in Khartoum, Sudan.

Malaysia’s national oil company (NOC), in an email response shared to The Malaysian Reserve yesterday, stated that the rights over the land and the Petronas Sudan Complex (PSC) in Khartoum, Sudan, were obtained in accordance with applicable laws.

“Petronas has been jointly working with Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to exercise all diplomatic channels with the authorities in Sudan to amicably resolve the issue.

“As there has been no positive development thus far, Petronas has filed a request for arbitration at ICSID over the matter,” Petronas noted.

It added that as the legal process has commenced, the group is unable to provide further information on this matter.

On Oct 5, Daily Sabah, an Istanbul based online portal, quoting sources, reported that the Sudanese government is seeking to confiscate assets belonging to Malaysia’s NOC, alleging the assets were acquired through illegal means during the rule of ousted leader Omar al-Bashir.

The report stated the PSC’s land was acquired and registered under Nada Properties Co Ltd (NPCL), a subsidiary of Petronas in Sudan.

“However, the sources underlined that Sudan transferred the ownership of NPCL to Sudan’s Ministry of Finance and ‘deprived Petronas of its rightful ownership of the company’,” the report said.

Petronas previously has objected to the expropriation of its property and criticised the allegations made by the committee.

Petronas stated that NPCL is a locally registered company under the Sudanese Companies Law in its appeal to the government, which is still ongoing.

The transitional government formed the Empowerment Removal, Anti-Corruption and Money Retrieving Committee, tasked with reviewing agreements and retrieving assets that were allegedly acquired through illegal means during the previous administration following Al-Bashir’s collapse.

Other foreign investors in Sudan have faced similar predicaments, including those from Pakistan, Qatar and Turkey, the report said.

Petronas has been operating in Sudan for more than 20 years and assisted the country to become an oil-exporting nation.