LUANDA, July 3 (Reuters) - Angola’s state oil company Sonangol will soon respond to an arbitration request by U.S. oil firm Cobalt which is seeking more than $2 billion from the African company after the two failed to reach an agreement on licence deadline extensions on two deepwater blocks, a company official said on Monday.
”We will within two weeks at most, give an answer to the Cobalt complaint where the rights of Sonangol and the state of Angola will be defended exhaustively,” Sonangol board member for legal affairs Cesar Paxi said.
Cobalt filed requests for arbitration in May requesting an award against Sonangol in excess of $2 billion, plus applicable interest and costs.
Cobalt said its years-long efforts to find a buyer for its 40 percent stakes in Blocks 20 and 21 offshore Angola were “negatively impacted by the uncertainty surrounding the extension”.
A deal to sell the licences to Sonangol in a $1.75 billion deal collapsed in 2016 because required approvals from the Angolan government did not come in time.
While Cobalt owns 40 percent of the blocks and Sonangol has 30 percent, the Angolan state company holds the rights to extend exploration deadlines for production sharing agreements. (Reporting by Herculano Coroado. Editing by Jane Merriman)