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Paris — An international court has ordered the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to pay Dig Oil of SA $617m for failing to honour two oil contracts, weeks before outgoing president Joseph Kabila finally approved one of the deals. The previously undisclosed ruling is the latest twist in an 11-year dispute over concessions in the nation, which may hold as much as 6% of the continent’s oil reserves. Kabila’s belated assent to one of the contested contracts suggests the state may be seeking ways to avoid paying the penalty. The Paris-based International Court of Arbitration said the DRC “failed to execute its obligations” by withholding presidential approval of production-sharing agreements signed in December 2007 and January 2008, according to a November 7 ruling verified by the oil ministry and Dig Oil. Dig Oil sealed the first contract for three blocks in central DRC and was part of a consortium of companies that secured the latter for a single permit in the east of the country....

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