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Maurel Denies Being Target of Gabon, Citing Ministry

June 12 (Bloomberg) -- Etablissements Maurel & Prom, a French oil and gas explorer, denied being subject to action by Gabon’s government for breaching contracts and evading taxes, citing a letter from Petroleum Minister Etienne Ngoubou.

An audit by Gabon of Maurel’s operations in the country found no breaches, Ngoubou said in a letter to Maurel. The correspondence, dated yesterday, was provided by the French company and confirmed by the ministry.

The letter rebuts speculation last week by consulting firm Eurasia Group that the French oil explorer may be the next target of a government crackdown over production contracts. Gabon’s oil ministry plans to seize an oil field from China Petrochemical Corp.’s Addax Petroleum.

Gabon’s audit of Maurel “did not find tax evasion or non-respect of contractual clauses,” the letter said.

Maurel on June 10 denied it is the subject of any tax litigation in Gabon and said it “largely exceeds” contractual commitments regarding exploration spending, investment, use of local labor and support for regional development.

Ngoubou won’t renew Addax’s license at the Tsiengui field because it had breached the law, a ministry official said June 6. Two other companies face similar actions, the official said, declining to name them.

Founded in 1998, New York-based Eurasia offers worldwide research on political risk, according to its website.

Maurel “categorically denies the remarks” made by Eurasia, the French explorer said.

The shares fell 1 percent to 12.07 euros in Paris today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tara Patel in Paris at tpatel2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net

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