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2 Aug 2021

Thomas Rowley, OC Media

Georgia: London arbitration court rules against Frontera in mining exploration dispute, former employees still seeking unpaid salaries

"London arbitration court ruled against Frontera, documents reveal", 22 July 2021

London-listed and US-based oil and gas company Frontera Resources lost its high-profile international arbitration case with Georgia after spending $1m on lobbying fees to pressure the country’s government, openDemocracy and OC Media report today. 

The confidential international arbitration decision shows how Frontera misled the public over their high-profile standoff with the Georgian Government.

...[T]he dispute centred on Frontera’s refusal to return Block XII after its production sharing contract – a document which determines the rights and obligations of investors and host states over oil and gas exploration – expired with Georgia’s State Oil and Gas Corporation in November 2017. 

...The final arbitration decision was made in April 2020, and both sides claimed victory. Under international arbitration rules, little information is publicly available about the details of the case, including which side won – until it was recently released in a legal dispute between two Frontera executives. 

...Between 2017 and 2020, a number of US Congressmen and Senators sought to pressure Georgia over the Frontera arbitration, drawing on the US’s strategic interests in the country. For the South Caucasus state, US support is vital in defending its interests against Russia, which backs the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

...Meanwhile, Frontera, which was traded on London’s Alternative Investment Market until it was delisted in 2019, has left former workers unpaid – and shareholders with apparently little recourse to retrieving their investments...Frontera currently owes $240,000 in unpaid wages to former employees in eastern Georgia, and there are believed to be roughly 200–300 shareholders in the UK whose shares have become worthless since the delisting.