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Unitization saga: Appeals Court rejects Eni-Vitol’s stay of execution of judgment

The Court of Appeal (Civil Division) sitting in Accra has dismissed an application by Eni Ghana Exploration and Production Limited and Vitol Upstream Ghana Limited for a stay of execution of a High Court ruling in the ongoing unitization legal tussle between the two companies and Springfield Exploration and Production Limited.

The three-member Court held that the order by the Trial Court ought not for the time being be disturbed pending the determination of the substantive appeal.

The Court, presided by Justice B. Ackah Yensu together with Justice Obeng Manu and Justice Adjei Frimpong, noted that sufficient case had not been made by the applicants to find an exceptional circumstance to warrant grant of the applications. It said ‘we have read and re-read the ruling of the learned Trial Judge and in particular, examined the reasoning behind the ruling she gave. We have come to appreciate the matters the Trial Judge took into consideration in arriving at the decision’.

The Justices in their unanimous decision indicated that they had averted their minds to the equities included in the matter and the balance of convenience and hardship that may occasion by a grant or refusal to stay in arriving at the ruling.

On June 25th 2021 a Commercial High Court in Accra presided over by Justice Mariama Sammo ordered the Italian oil and gas company together with its partners, Vitol to set aside 30 percent of oil proceeds from the Sankofa Field’s production in an escrow account to be agreed by the feuding parties, pending the final determination of an application filed by Springfield E&P, an Independent wholly-Ghanaian upstream company.

Springfield filed the suit following Eni’s refusal to comply with directives by Ghana’s Ministry of Energy for the parties to unitise the Afina oil block held by Springfield E&P and the Sankofa Field operated by Eni and Vitol based on data submitted to the Ministry which is reported to have been verified by the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation.

The two oil companies were directed to unitise the two fields by the Ministry of Energy in April 2020, because the data showed that the two fields straddle, but this has not come to fruition based on different positions taken by the parties.

Among the reliefs sought by Springfield was an order directed at the Defendants to comply with the directive issued in the letter of 9th April 2020 and enter into an agreement.

Source: B&FT

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