Oceana gives Oil Companies Carte Blanche Print E-mail
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Written by Shane d. Williams   
Thursday, 30 May 2013 00:00

On Tuesday, April 16th, Justice Oswell Legall issued an injunction against the Government of Belize that prevents it from carrying out the provisions of the Production Sharing Agreements with Island Oil, Miles Tropical Energy, Petrol Belize Company Limited, Princess Petroleum Belize Limited, Providence Energy Belize Limited and Sol Oil Belize Limited. Government had already terminated contracts with four of those companies; so, the injunction only affects Princess Petroleum Limited and Providence Energy Belize Limited, which have contracts that extend to October 2015. On Tuesday, May 28th, the Government of Belize applied for a stay of execution on the injunction at the Belize Supreme Court.

It is an extremely important procedure for Government because the injunction issued by Justice Legal has in effect stripped its regulating authority over the oil companies. Denys Barrow, Attorney for GOB, said, “The judgment enjoins the Government, it imposes an injunction upon the Government, but it does nothing to the petroleum explorers so they can do what they want because no judgment binds them.” Treaty Energy Belize, operating under the umbrella of Princess Petroleum Limited, recently resumed their oil exploration activities. The injunction prevents Government from regulating or even monitoring the company’s operations. Oceana basically gave the oil companies freedom to operate as they please and Government’s application before the Supreme Court is to reverse what Denys Barrow refers to as “a very, very unfortunate situation that Justice Legall has gotten the Government into, and the nation of Belize.”

On Tuesday, Oceana issued a press release entitled “GOB stay Application Fails”. Again, it seems that they have misunderstood court procedures. On Tuesday, Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin simply adjourned the hearing for an application to have the injunction lifted. This was necessary, according to Denys Barrow, because “the Oceana people filed some documents very late in the day”. Oceana applied for the testimony of an expert witness to be admitted during the hearing. Chief Justice Benjamin said that he did not have time to read the applications; he adjourned the case until Tuesday, June 4th.