UK-based Ascent Resources has formally submitted a request for arbitration against Slovenia following complications in the country green-lighting the company’s Petisovci gas project. Ascent has revised its damage assessment from 100 million to over 500 million euros.
The statement from the company said that the request was submitted to the Washington-based International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). The move follows notices of dispute filed in July 2020 and May 2022 in which Slovenia was formally notified of the existence of a dispute under the Energy Charter Treaty and the UK-Slovenia bilateral investment treaty.
Ascent Resources CEO Andrew Dennan said the company remained amenable to discussing settlement with Slovenia following its review of the matter or otherwise pursing our damages claim through to a binding result for the company. Ascent claims Slovenia had led a populist campaign against it, preventing the development of the Petisovci gas field.
The dispute dates back to 2019, when the Slovenian Environment Agency (ARSO) said an environment impact assessment was required, a decision which was later also backed by the Administrative Court. Ascent claims that such an environment impact assessment was not required and had never been required under Slovenian law and that the agency’s decision went against the conclusion of the country’s own expert bodies. According to the company, the amendment of the Mining Act in May 2022, which completely banned fracking, was the culmination of Slovenia’s campaign against it.
Ascent Resources has entered into a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) with the Slovenian company Geoenergo under which it manages operations in the Petisovci oil and gas field. In August 2016, Geoenergo announced that Croatian oil company INA will purchase natural gas from two wells in northeastern Slovenia and transport it to its central gas station in Molve for further processing and cleaning.
The current concession for Petisovci gas field was awarded to Geoenergo in 2002 and is due for renewal in 2022.