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 DNO: Iraq spat with ex-U.S. diplomat costs up to $92 mln 

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DNO: Iraq spat with ex-U.S. diplomat costs up to $92 mln  1.5.2011

May 1, 2011

OSLO, — Norwegian oil company DNO said it had resolved a long dispute over former U.S. diplomat Peter Galbraith's middle-man role in a 2004 Iraqi oil deal by paying damages and legal costs as high as $92 million.

That compares to the $55 to $75 million in damages DNO estimated last October it would have to pay Galbraith and a Yemeni firm in an arbitration over money from an oil field in Iraqi Kurdistan that the former diplomat helped line up for DNO.

The company did not name the recipients in a note appended to its 2010 annual report disclosing that the high-profile case was finally settled.                 

DNO chief executive Helge Eide (R). Peter W. Galbraith (L), the former United States diplomat who advised the Kurds during the negotiations on Iraq’s Constitution.
It identified them last October, however, when it made the preliminary payout estimate.

"Peter Galbraith and the company owned by the family of (Yemeni businessman) Shaher Abdulhak are the claimants here," DNO chief executive Helge Eide said then.

Asked on Saturday if any of the claimants had changed, DNO spokesman Tom Bratlie said, "No, it's the same claimants."

Galbraith, a former U.S. Senate staffer who championed Kurdish rights and later held U.S. and United Nations diplomatic posts, has denied a conflict of interest,www.ekurd.netsaying he was a private citizen when he helped DNO gain Kurdish oil licenses.

Last November Galbraith, a son of renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith, was elected to the Vermont State Senate. He could not be reached for comment on Saturday.

In its annual report released on Friday DNO said it had set aside about $65 million in 2010 to cover liability and legal costs in the case and an additional $27 million in 2009.

"The arbitration case has now been settled outside of the arbitration process, with no additional material effect to the financial statements for 2010 or future accounts," it said.

Bratlie declined to discuss the dispute beyond saying it dated back several years to when the Kurdistan regional government KRG barred "third parties" from continuing to own stakes in DNO licenses obtained after the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.

One such regional license -- which Iraq's central government seeks to revise -- covers the Tawke field, where DNO now produces about 50,000 barrels of crude a day.

Bratlie said the arbitration winners have now been paid their damages. He said settlement terms kept him from specifying how much each got or what share of the total went to lawyers. 

Copyright ©, respective author or news agency,  Reuters 


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