Norwegian firm's shares frozen after disagreement over Iraqi oil field

23 September 2009

Kurdistan Regional Government bans DNO International operations for six weeks

Norwegian oil explorer DNO International’s shares have been suspended after the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) froze the company’s operations in Iraq for six weeks.

The disagreement started after the Oslo Stock Exchange announced that a probe into the sale of shares from DNO to Turkey’s Genel Enerji, showed that the KRG Natural Resources Minister Ashti Hawrami, acted as a middle man for the deal.

The KRG informed DNO on 21 September that “misleading and incomplete publications” produced by the Oslo Stock Exchange had caused serious harm to its reputation.

It added that the KRG has ceased all oil exports from DNO’s Kurdistan operations for a maximum period of six weeks while DNO finds ways to remedy the damage done to its reputation.

If DNO satisfies all of its requirements, the Norwegian company may start operating again.

On 21 September, DNO said it will consider suing the Oslo Stock Exchange for “wilful breach of confidentiality”.

In June, the Oslo Stock Exchange fined DNO $370,000 for not providing enough information about the share sale in October 2008.

The bourse argued that the company knew at the time that the shares were sold to a single buyer linked to one of its oil field concessions and that DNO should have identified the buyer.

In early September, an Oslo Stock Exchange appeals committee upheld a breach of conduct charge against DNO, for failing to disclose under the rules of the Stock Exchange Act.

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