by BERNAMA / pic by TMR FILE
KUALA LUMPUR – Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) said its office and residential complex in Khartoum and the land it is built on, currently at the heart of the energy entity’s dispute with Sudan, are among its only remaining assets in the country.
“We do not have much in Sudan anymore. Apart from the land and the building, we have a two per cent share in the company that operates a crude oil transportation system in the country.
“This share will be handed over to the government as per agreement by the first quarter of next year,” executive vice president and upstream chief executive officer Adif Zulkifli told Bernama in an interview on Friday.
“All other assets have been handed over to the government at the expiry of our Exploration and Production Sharing Agreement (EPSA) in 2014,” he added.
Petronas has been in Sudan since 1996 – first in the upstream business and then downstream.
In 2005, it incorporated NADA Property Co Ltd, a subsidiary that purchased a land in Khartoum to build and manages the Petronas Sudan Complex, which now also houses tenants that include other international companies as well as the Malaysian Embassy.
In December 2020, the shares of the subsidiary were unilaterally transferred to Sudan’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.
“We acquired the land in accordance with rightful applicable laws and had been working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malaysia to exercise all diplomatic channels with the authorities in Sudan to amicably resolve the issue,” Adif said.
However, as there was no positive development, Petronas filed a request for arbitration at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Dispute (ICSID) on the matter.
In a statement issued on Oct 13, Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that despite Petronas’ arbitration proceedings, the ministry remained hopeful for a timely and amicable resolution of the issue, with the view of preserving the longstanding relations between Malaysian and Sudan.
“We have been in the country for a long time and have had a fair share of ups and downs as we developed our business and the country’s oil industry with our partners,” Adif added.
One of the “downs” is the recent arrest warrant issued by Sudan against the three partners of PetroDar Operating Company (PDOC), a joint venture in which Petronas has an interest, relating to two separate trade union claims over a minimum wage increment and leave compensation.
PDOC is in the process of cancelling the warrant, which it maintains as wrongful.
“Somehow, the wrongful arrest warrant has been inaccurately linked by many news outlets to the ongoing legal proceeding for our rights over the land and the Petronas Sudan Complex. These are two separate issues,” Adif explained.
According to him, Petronas has a small number of employees currently in Khartoum, with whom the company is in regular contact while closely monitoring the developments of the two issues.