News 15 Dec. 2020

Kazakhstan Secures US$1.9 Billion in Settlement of Arbitral Dispute

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Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan – The Republic of Kazakhstan has secured a US$1.9 billion settlement, comprising a US$1.3 billion cash payment and an estimated additional US$600 million through the end of 2037 based on an assumed oil price of $40-50 per barrel. The settlement brought to a close a six-year dispute over the sharing of profits from the giant Karachaganak oil and gas field, and resulted in the largest payment ever to the Republic in settlement of an arbitral dispute.

Curtis has been representing the Republic of Kazakhstan in negotiations and in arbitration since 2015 against subsidiaries of ENI (Italy), Shell (The Netherlands and the United Kingdom), Chevron (United States) and Lukoil (Russian Federation), the international oil companies that are parties to the production sharing agreement for the exploitation of the Karachaganak field. The negotiations settled the parties’ disputes before issuance of a final arbitral award and included a commitment by the consortium members to invest about $1 billion in the project to maintain production levels.

New York-based partner Eric Gilioli commented: “This has been a marathon, not a sprint. The negotiations involved unusual, highly complex contractual provisions and their ramifications under Kazakhstani tax laws. The negotiations were conducted in both English and Russian, with multiple parties from several countries, while the Republic simultaneously pursued its arbitration claims.”

Mr. Gilioli added: “The negotiations were made even more difficult by Covid-19 related travel restrictions. After more than fifty face-to-face negotiating sessions in Kazakhstan, our negotiations continued remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic, with negotiation team members spread out across North America, Europe, Central Asia and East Asia, working day and night for weeks at a time.”

Paris-based partner Peter Wolrich commented: “We are pleased that the parties were able to reach a negotiated resolution of their dispute and that the settlement has resulted in an unprecedented recovery for the Republic.”

The New York-based negotiating team was led by partner Eric Gilioli, working with counsels Nurlan Mukhitdinov and Susan Maples, and associate Iryna Voronov. The Paris-based arbitration team was led by partners Peter Wolrich, and Geoffroy Lyonnet, working with counsel Marie-Claire Argac, associates Lisa Arpin-Pont and Erik Grigoryan, and paralegal Veronica Akimkanova.

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