Ascent Resources File Claim Against Slovenia Over Fracking Ban, Demands €500m

By , 17 Aug 2022, 11:13 AM Business

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STA, 16 August 2022 - The UK energy and natural resources company Ascent Resources and its Slovenian subsidiary have formally submitted a request for arbitration against Slovenia following complications in the country green-lighting their gas project near Lendava. The company has revised its damage assessment from EUR 100 million to over EUR 500 million.

The request was submitted to the Washington-based International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), Ascent Resources said in a press release.

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," the company said.

Ascent Resources CEO Andrew Dennan said the company remained "amenable to discussing settlement with the Republic of 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 Petišovci oil and gas field.

The dispute dates back to 2019, when the 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.

The company also says that the minister of the environment and spatial planning had repeatedly made public statements portraying Ascent, as well as the Petišovci project, in a negative light.

Moreover, the company believes that leaks were made by ARSO to the press. "This further demonstrates that ARSO was biased against the investors and that ARSO's decision was politically motivated."

Moreover, in May changes to the mining act took effect, imposing a complete ban on fracking. Ascent says this was the culmination of the country's campaign against it.

Its board believes that "statements made during the parliamentary debate on the ban leave no doubt that the investors were being specifically targeted by it".

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