David Cameron backs Tullow in Gabon
UK Prime Minister David Cameron intervened in a row between Dublin-listed Tullow Oil and the government of Gabon after the African country's petroleum ministry took ownership of assets from the Tullow and also threatened Shell with a fine for non-payment of back taxes.
The 'Financial Times' reported that Mr Cameron wrote to Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba after the Foreign Office failed to resolve the dispute.
In a letter promising aid for the Gabonese president's battle against elephant poachers, Mr Cameron said he hopes the "companies concerned and the Gabonese government can come to an agreement" soon.
Last year, Gabon oil minister Etienne Ngoubou locked Tullow Oil out of talks on the renewal of a licence on the onshore Onal field, in effect expropriating the UK company's 7.5pc stake, the 'Financial Times' said. Tullow told the newspaper it was "very concerned by the delay. Sanctity of contract is always vital but it is even more important at this critical and difficult time for the oil and gas sector to ensure future investment."
Tullow founder Aidan Heavey has made donations to the Tory party but the company said it had not asked Mr Cameron to write to Mr Bongo.
President Bongo succeeded his father Omar Bongo in 2009 in a disputed election marred by subsequent protests. Omar Bongo was one of Africa's richest men and he ruled Gabon for 42 years.