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Jul 25, 2012

Oceana challenge over oil concessions pushed back to August

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

The case against the Ministry of Natural Resources & the Environment, in which Oceana is challenging oil concessions granted to six companies between 2005 and 2007, has been adjourned to August twenty-second.  The deferral came after Justice Oswell Legall informed both parties that he needs to be persuaded by their arguments, in light of a position the Court of Appeal has taken on the matter.  Concessions had been granted to Island Oil Belize Ltd., Tropical Energy Ltd., PetroBelize Company Ltd., Princess Petroleum Ltd., Providence Energy Belize Ltd., and Sol Oil Belize Ltd.  Oceana contends that the contracts are null and void since the companies have failed to meet the requirements of the Petroleum Act.  Oceana’s Vice President Audrey Matura-Shepherd spoke with News Five following the adjournment.

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, V.P., Oceana

“What happened, as you recall the previous adjournment in the matter in which we are challenging the validity and legality of the offshore oil contracts was adjourned pending the decision of the Court of Appeal. There was a case before the Court of Appeal, named Froylan Gilharry, in which he challenged a matter under judicial review. When we were at court previous to today, it was clear that that decision from the Court of Appeal would have affected the outcome of our case. The Court of Appeal, being a higher court; once they give a decision, a lower court, which is the Supreme Court, would have to then obey it. So we were asked to come back to court today to report on what had happened in that case and what was the decision. Basically what that decision is saying is what we believe is our position as well; is that when it comes to the public law cases, that is a case where you a private citizen or a group brings against a public authority—meaning the government or any of its department—we are saying that the public authorities act does not apply to it nor the limitation that apply to it. And we are saying based on the ratio of this decision that court case from the Court of Appeal supports our case. Of course it wasn’t argued fully today because the judge says he needs to be persuaded. So he has adjourned until August twenty-second so that we all have time to come to court prepared to argue the case. It will be very interesting because what a people may not realize is that when there is a ruling from one court, you try and take the reasoning of that case and apply it to your particular situation. There might be some variances to your factual circumstances, but the principle is what matters and we are saying that that principle of that case supports ours. Of course the judge has not ruled all the way because as an honest and unbiased judge, he will hear both parties what they have to say and then after he will then give a ruling. So we still have to wait until the twenty-second of August.” 

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2 Responses for “Oceana challenge over oil concessions pushed back to August”

  1. Belizean says:

    All I heard was bla bla bla. These people are wanna be’s. They are a group with no effect. Its like a rock trying to walk. To think that something like OCEANA will stop the government and oil companies from drilling? How lame. I hope the offshore drilling can come through. If OCEANA doesnt want offshore drilling then why didnt they stop on shore drilling? Thats the first thing they should have stopped.

  2. Swamp Dragon says:

    Belizean- what efforts are you putting forth? Do you not want to protect the reef and rivers and marine life? These are lifebloods of Belize.

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