October 4, 2016 / 3:46 PM / a year ago

Endeavor Energy says Ivorian partner violated power plant deal

ABIDJAN, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Africa-focused power producer Endeavor Energy on Tuesday accused Starenergie, its partner in an energy project in Ivory Coast, of violating the deal by choosing a Chinese firm to build the plant, and warned it would "seek redress".

Endeavor and Starenergie signed a joint development agreement (JDA) in 2015 to build the 372 MW Songon power station outside Ivory Coast's commercial capital Abidjan and furnish it with liquid natural gas (LNG).

Starenergie, however, then independently signed a contract with China Energy Engineering Corporation (CEEC) on Aug. 20 this year to build the power plant. Under the agreement, CEEC will raise 75 percent of the 500 million euro ($558 million) cost of the facility via China Construction Bank.

"Endeavor is disappointed by Starenergie's actions, which are inconsistent with both our JDA agreement and international best practices," Endeavor said in a statement.

"Endeavor is fully committed to enforcing its rights under the JDA and will seek redress against Starenergie and anyone tortiously interfering with its contractual rights."

Starenergie CEO Richard Amon rejected Endeavor's criticisms, saying his company had informed Houston-based Endeavor in January that it believed the U.S. company had failed to meet its obligations under the JDA and that Starenergie was terminating their joint agreement.

"I've done everything I could to work with Endeavor," Amon told Reuters. "We sent a letter terminating the JDA."

Starenergie had since attempted to work out its issues with Endeavor to negotiate a new partnership agreement and the two companies were in contact during the tendering process for the power plant, he said.

Endeavor said in March that it hoped to secure financing for the project, which would also include a terminal to import LNG, by the end of 2016.

Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa grower and French-speaking West Africa's largest economy, has emerged as one of Africa's rising stars after a decade of political turmoil.

Demand for electricity is increasing by 10 percent annually, and the energy minister said last year that $20 billion in power investment would be needed over the next 15 years. ($1 = 0.8958 euros) (Reporting by Joe Bavier; Editing by Tim Cocks and Susan Fenton)

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