Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company (Bapex) has filed a case with an international arbitration court against Niko Resources Bangladesh Ltd. Bapex claimed a compensation of around Tk 9,189 crore and annulment of the previous cases against itself.
Bapex filed this case at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
According to the related sources, Niko has pleaded guilty in the Canadian court to bribing a Bangladeshi minister for getting the lease of gas fields. Bapex submitted evidences to the ICSID on blown out gas fields that was generated by different international investigators and referred to that Canadian verdict indeed, while filing the case.
Among the evidences, there is a copy of cheque that was used to transact the bribe money, several statements and the bank statements of related personnel.
Recently on March 25th, the ICSID issued a rule seeking explanation from Niko to follow the claim by Bapex,.
According to a high official from Bapex, a total amount of 116 crore 80 lacs USD (approximately 9,189 crore Tk) was claimed as a compensation from Niko. Among the amount almost Tk 105 crore is considered as a damage to national asset and 115 crore and 80 lacs USD as a loss of Bapex. However, extra interest will be superimposed on
the total compensation.
The state minister for Power Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid said that, quite much documentary evidences were found regarding Niko’s corruption and Bapex filed this case considering all these facts. He also explained his hope on a win in this case.
The gas field of tengratila of Sunamganj experienced two successive blow-outs in January 7th and June 24th of 2005 due to Niko’s mishandling.
The investigation team accused Niko’s inexperienced drilling for both the blow-outs. Later, the government and Petrobangla filed a case in Dhaka’s Joint District Judge’s Court on 15th June of 2008 claiming a
compensation of Tk 746 crore and 50 lacs. The case is ongoing. Meanwhile, in this May, the High Court of Bangladesh issued a stay order on operation of the agreement that was signed with Niko in response to a writ petition filed by the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB). Before this, Bangladesh Environment Lawyers
Association (BELA) filed another case against Niko and the court forbade the government to make any payment to Niko for the gas of Feni’s field until Niko pay the claimed compensation. After that Niko moved to the ICSID and filed two separate cases against Petrobangla and Bapex. In 2014 ICSID ordered Bapex to pay the arrears to Niko.
However, according to the related personnel, it’s assumed that the negligence of the lawyers and related officials caused that verdict to go against Bangladesh. The government and Bapex then replaced the
lawyer and applied for a review petition. The final hearing of that review petition held in November, 2015 at the head quarter of ICSID in England. Bapex filed this compensation case while the verdict of the last hearing is pending.