Young: Dragon gas project not threatened by ConocoPhillips’ court order

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Stuart Young, Minister of Energy and Energy Industries. – File photo

MINISTER of Energy and Energy Industries Stuart Young has assured the Dragon gas project will not be affected by a recent court order granting ConocoPhillips the right to enforce a US$1.33 billion claim against Venezuela for past expropriations by seizing assets which may be located in Trinidad and Tobago.

In May, High Court Judge Frank Seepersad ruled in favour of ConocoPhillips after Venezuela expropriated the company’s investments in 2007 without compensation.

ConocoPhillips helped Venezuela develop the Petrozuata, Hamaca and Corocoro projects by providing the government with industry-leading technology and substantial long-term investments.

Seepersad’s order gave ConocoPhillips the green light to enforce its US$1.33 billion ($9.03 billion) arbitration award in Trinidad if it could establish there were assets held by the Venezuelans or money owed to Petróleos de Venezuela, SA (PDVSA) by entities in TT.

Supporting documents in the legal matter said ConocoPhillips intends to go after PDVSA for “relinquishing its rights in respect of the Dragon gas field and for the infrastructure it owns; and any consideration paid by the National Gas Company of TT to a PDVSA-related entity or Venezuela for ongoing supplies of gas.”

Responding to a question from opposition senator Wade Mark in the Senate on Tuesday, Young said TT had not received any notices from ConocoPhillips about executing its order and does not believe it will affect the coveted Dragon gas project.

“At this stage, the State has not been served with any order of the High Court related to any ConocoPhillips matter or arbitral award. The matter appears to still be sub judice as well as there were recent media reports that the High Court judge amended his original order.

“However, under the basis of the normal principles of company law and international law, there are no risks to the Dragon project as a result of the arbitration award to ConocoPhillips against PDVSA.”

Young went on to say: “An arbitral award against a company, PDVSA, will not affect the government of Venezuela’s dealings with this licence that was issued to Shell and NGC.”

Seepersad adjusted the timeframe for ConocoPhillips to execute the order on June 25 after the company failed to do so in the stipulated time, owing to the time-consuming process of translating the 1,000 pages of documents.

Young said the State or its entities were not notified beforehand about the legal matter and its result, saying it was learnt of through media reports.