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Decision in Oceana’s challenge to 6 offshore PSAs tomorrow

Press Release Date: April 17, 2013

Location: Belize City, Belize


Decision in Oceana’s challenge to 6 offshore PSAs tomorrow

The decision in Claim 810 of 2011is due to be handed down tomorrow, April 16th 2013 at 9:00am in the courtroom of Supreme Court Justice Oswell Legall.

Oceana in Belize on its own initially challenged the legality of the six offshore Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) signed by the Minister of Natural Resources. The PSAs granted oil concession contracts to Island Oil Belize Ltd, Tropical Energy Ltd, Petro Belize Co Ltd, Princess Petroleum Ltd, Providence Energy Belize Ltd and Sol Oil Belize Ltd between 2005 and 2007. The Supreme Court later granted the requests of Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) and the Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage to join the case as Co-Claimants.

Back in early February of this year Senior Counsel Godfrey Smith presented oral arguments for Oceana, COLA & the Coalition that the PSAs were granted in breach of the provisions of not only the Petroleum Act, but also in contravention of the Environmental Protection Act, the Fisheries Act and the National Parks Act. SC Smith had also argued that in the case of the PSAs that had since been renewed, the renewal occurred despite the fact that the concessioners did not adhere to the very conditions laid out in their original concessions, which required payment of rental and administrative fees, relinquishment of part of their blocks and that specific activities be undertaken over the life of the original contracts.

Instead of the lawyers of the Office of the Solicitor General who appeared for the defendants at the start of the case, private attorneys Denys Barrow, SC and Naima Barrow represented the government in defending the validity of the PSAs.

Audrey Matura-Shepherd Mobile: 610-0702