Business World

Sunday 25 March 2018

Tullow dragged into 'stupid woman' row over Tory political donations

Nick Webb

Nick Webb

Aidan Heavey's Tullow Oil was last week centre of a political row following comments made in the UK parliament.

Foreign Secretary William Hague has come under fire after muttering the words "stupid woman" at a Labour MP during prime minister's questions. The comments came after his links with Conservative donors and private companies were called into question by shadow treasury minister Cathy Jamieson.

Ms Jamieson asked David Cameron: "Perhaps the prime minister could tell the House whether [Tullow Oil chief executive] Mr Aidan Heavey's donations to the Conservative Party had any influence on the foreign secretary's intervention in his company's tax dispute?" Heavey has donated stg£10,000 to the Conservative party in recent years.

As the prime minister responded, Mr Hague was seen to mouth "stupid woman" twice. He later said he did not intend any offence.

Ms Jamieson told the Huffington Post: "I didn't hear what Mr Hague was saying but I was contacted by constituents and others who were outraged that he was apparently muttering before I had even finished my question. It would have been better for the prime minister to give the House the reassurance I sought than have the foreign secretary muttering insults."

Meanwhile, Tullow is planning a return to Mauritania after an earlier oil discovery performed below expectations.

Tullow plans to start a four-well offshore campaign this year, targeting about 900 million barrels of resources.

The first significant discovery in Mauritania was a disaster – production at the Chinguetti field collapsed to a fraction of the initial rate and Australia's Woodside Petroleum Ltd was forced to sell the project at a loss in 2007.

Explorers are now testing the northernmost limits of Africa's Atlantic coastline as an oil-producing region after making discoveries in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast. (Additional reporting: Bloomberg.)

Irish Independent

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