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A&V Oil and Gas Ltd CEO Hanif Baksh speaks on his cellphone while leaving a store after reappearing at the Siparia Magistrates’ Court.

“A&V Oil and Gas Limited saved you the taxpayers of this country from having to fork out millions of dollars by agreeing to settle our legal dispute with Petrotrin,” said its chief executive officer Hanif Baksh.

Baksh made the statement in a release issued yesterday in response to Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Ltd (TPHL) going against the “extremely strong views” of its own legal team and opting to pay A&V around $120 million to put their legal dispute to rest.

As part of the settlement, A&V was also granted a new ten-year Enhanced Production Services Contract (EPSC) with Heritage Petroleum.

“A&V was pleased, however, in the efforts made to amicably resolve the matter because A&V recognised that Petrotrin may not have been able to pay the judgement debt and costs and that the government would have had to step in to pay the damages,” Baksh said

He argued those damages could have been in the vicinity of $800 million.

Baksh said A&V believes Petrotrin should make representations for the government to disclose the entire judgement in the case to the public and lay it in the Parliament.

“I wish to tell the country that A&V intends to put all of the disputes behind it and go forward to explore and extract the maximum amount of oil from the Catshill Field so that not only A&V would benefit, but that the production of oil by A&V would contribute to the national economy,” he stated.

The issue surrounding A&V began just over four years ago, when Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar raised the issue of “fake oil” involving Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s self-proclaimed friend Baksh.

According to Baksh the recent judgement showed that those statements were “inaccurate and untrue.”

“At the trial, A&V presented evidence to show that A&V produced the quantities of oil that it was paid for by Petrotrin. It presented evidence to show that the Catshill Field had the capacity to produce the quantities of oil and it presented evidence to show that A&V’s pumps had the capacity to pump the quantities of oil to Petrotrin,” Baksh stated.

On June 11, 2021, an arbitration panel headed by former president of the Caribbean Court of Justice, Sir Dennis Byron, found that Petrotrin had failed to establish that A&V Oil was engaged in seal-tampering or any other inappropriate practices in the process of the delivery of crude oil to Petrotrin during the period from April 2016 to July 2017.

The other arbitrators included Lord David Hope and former Justice of Appeal Humphrey Stollmeyer.

The panel of arbitrators found that Petrotrin did not have reasonable grounds for suspecting that AV Oil had misconducted itself or otherwise been involved in wrongful or fraudulent activity which would have normally entitled Petrotrin to terminate the IPSC Agreement under Article 29.1.

“The case between A&V and Petrotrin went through a pre-trial judicial process for approximately two years and then a trial which lasted for two weeks. Both A&V and Petrotrin had every opportunity to put before the judges all their evidence and all their submissions,” Baksh stated.

“After that process was completed, the judges reserved their decision. They deliberated for months and then decided the case in favour of A&V. They rejected the defence of Petrotrin and gave a judgement of 76 pages. That was a unanimous decision in that the three judges agreed that A&V’s claim against Petrotrin was successful and they rejected the defence of Petrotrin,” he stated.