A&V Oil and Gas has failed in its attempt to get the courts to grant an interim injunction restraining state-owned Petrotrin from giving effect to the termination of its contract with the lease operator.
The injunction also sought to challenge Petrotrin’s entitlement to withhold $83.9 million which was retained under a term of the agreement between the state oil company and the lease operator.
A&V Oil’s attorneys, on February 15, applied for the injunction in the San Fernando High Court.
The application was heard by Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams and dismissed.
A&V Oil made a second attempt to get the interim relief in an application filed in the Court of Appeal. This was dismissed yesterday by Appeal Court judge Prakash Moosai. The lease operator was represented by attorneys Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC, Ronnie Bissessar and Vijaya Maharaj. Petrotrin was represented by Senior Counsel Deborah Peake, Ravi Heffes-Doon and Marcelle Ferdinand.
On December 22, Petrotrin, announced the termination of its contract with A&V Oil and Gas.
The lease operator was at the centre of the fake oil scandal at Petrotrin. Petrotrin said the findings of its audit department had been confirmed by an independent forensic audit by Canadian consultancy firm, Kroll Consulting Canada Company commissioned by Petrotrin’s board of directors.
In its application, A&V Oil argued that there were serious issues to be tried.
Maharaj relied on an article of the contract his client signed with Petrotrin – the Incremental Production Service Contract (IPSC) – and provisions in the Arbitration Act.
The IPSC agreement was signed on November 18, 2009, and was expected to expire in 2019.
According to the agreement, either party could apply to the court for injunctive relief before arbitration for the preservation of its rights and interests.
In her ruling, Quinlan-Williams said she was satisfied that while the contractual arrangements between A&V Oil and Petrotrin outlined a dispute-resolution process, the parties were not yet in arbitration, so the Arbitration Act did not apply at this stage.
The lease operator has asked that they attempt to resolve their disputes in good faith.
Three names have already been suggested as mediators. They include former Law Association president Reginald Armour, SC, John Dowse of Resolution Chambers and Helen Alves, the sole proprietor of Alves Clarke & Company and Resolution of Disputes.
Quinlan-Williams also said in her ruling she was not satisfied there were serious issues to be tried as raised by A&V Oil. She said she considered the termination clause in the IPSC which gave Petrotrin the right to terminate the agreement by 30 days’ notice.
Termination of the contract became effective on the expiry of the 30 days.
Quinlan-Williams said Petrotrin had “reasonable grounds to terminate the agreement” as the internal audit provided the state company with reasonable grounds that the lease operator was engaged in fraudulent activity.