Justia Energy, Oil & Gas Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in International Law
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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's order confirming a $622 million arbitration award. The parties are oil and gas companies incorporated in different countries, and the dispute arose from the Agreement for the Provision of Drilling Services (DSA). About two years into the DSA's term, Vantage and Petrobras executed the Third Novation and Amendment Agreement, which included an arbitration clause.As a preliminary matter, the court stated that it need not decide the issue of whether the appeal waiver was enforceable. On the merits, the court held that there was no public policy bar to confirmation of the arbitration award. In this case, the district court did not engage in inappropriate deference to the arbitrator's decision and the district court did not base its decision just on "mutual mistake." The court also held that Petrobras has not shown that the district court abused its discretion in denying the discovery motions. Finally, the court rejected Petrobras' motion to vacate the arbitration award. View "Vantage Deepwater Co. v. Petrobras America, Inc." on Justia Law

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The alleged misconduct tied to the trading of crude oil extracted from Europe's North Sea constitutes an impermissibly extraterritorial application of the Commodity Exchange Act. Plaintiffs, individuals and entities who traded futures and derivatives contracts involving North Sea oil, appealed the district court's dismissal of their claims alleging that defendants, entities involved in various aspects of the production of Brent crude, conspired to manipulate, and did in fact manipulate, the market for physical Brent crude and Brent Futures by executing fraudulent bids, offers, and transactions in the underlying physical Brent crude market over the course of the Class Period.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' claims under the Act, holding that the presumption of extraterritoriality has not been displaced in this case, and plaintiffs have not pleaded a domestic application of the Act by merely alleging a winding chain of foreign, intervening events connected to the purchase of Brent Futures. The court also affirmed the district court's dismissal of all other defendants and all other claims in a separately filed summary order. View "Prime International Trading Ltd. v. BP PLC" on Justia Law

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Defendants, the Donziger Firm and others, appealed the district court's grant of certain relief against them in favor of Chevron, in connection with an $8.646 billion judgment obtained against Chevron in Ecuador by the Lago Agrio Plaintiffs represented by the Donziger Firm. The judgment award was for environmental damage in connection with the Texaco oil exploration activities in Ecuador from the 1960s-1990s. On appeal, defendants challenge the district court's judgment, arguing principally that the action should have been dismissed on the ground that Chevron lacks Article III standing, and/or that the judgment should be reversed on the grounds, inter alia, that it violates principles of international comity and judicial estoppel, exceeds any legal authorization for equitable relief, and was entered without personal jurisdiction over defendants other than Donziger and his Firm. The court found no basis for dismissal or reversal in the absence of challenges to the district court's factual findings; considering the express disclaimers by the Ecuadorian appellate courts of their own jurisdiction to "hear and resolve" the above charges of corruption, "preserving the parties' rights" to pursue those charges in actions in the United States; and considering the district court's confinement of its injunction to a grant of in personam relief against the three defendants-appellants without disturbing the Ecuadorian judgment. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Chevron Corp. v. Donziger" on Justia Law

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The Department of Commerce determined that utility scale wind towers from the People’s Republic of China and utility scale wind towers from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (together, the subject merchandise) were sold in the United States at less than fair value and that it received countervailable subsidies. The International Trade Commission made a final affirmative determination of material injury to the domestic industry. The determination was by divided vote of the six-member Commission. The Court of International Trade upheld the Commission’s affirmative injury determination. Siemens Energy, Inc., an importer of utility scale wind towers, challenged the determination. The issues on appeal concerned the interpretation and effect of the divided vote. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that the Court of International Trade properly upheld the Commission’s affirmative injury determination. View "Simens Energy, Inc. v. United States, Wind Tower Trade Coalition" on Justia Law

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Since the early 1990s, Chevron and its predecessor Texaco, Inc., have defended litigation concerning Texaco's operations in Ecuador and the environmental contamination it allegedly produced. This litigation started in the Southern District of New York but eventually found its way to Ecuadorian courts. In 2011, the court in Lago Agrio entered an $18.2 billion judgment against Chevron, which Chevron appealed. In this case, Chevron appealed the United States district court's order granting a motion to compel production of documents pursuant to subpoenas issued under 28 U.S.C. 1782. Chevron sought relief from that judgment pursuant to investment treaty arbitration under United Nations' rules. Finding no error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court's order. View "The Republic of Ecuador, et al v. Bjorkman" on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from Chevron's involvement in litigation over the alleged environmental contamination of oil fields in Ecuador. Ecuador sought discovery from John Connor and GSI Environmental, his company, for use in a foreign arbitration against Chevron. During the course of extended litigation with Ecuador, Chevron, an intervenor in the district court, benefited repeatedly by arguing against Ecuador and others that the arbitration was a "foreign or international tribunal." Because Chevron's previous positions were inconsistent with its current argument, judicial estoppel was appropriate to make discovery under 28 U.S.C. 1782 available for Ecuador. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for determination of the scope of discovery. View "Republic of Ecuador, et al v. Connor, et al" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from a related case currently pending in a United Kingdom Litigation, which arose from contractual disputes related to the exploration, development, and operation of oil blocks in Kurdistan, Iraq. On appeal, plaintiff argued that the district court erred by granting a motion to quash certain discovery subpoenas before plaintiff had an opportunity to respond in opposition and by not providing any reasons on the record for its decision. The court vacated the district court's order and remanded with instructions to allow plaintiff a reasonable period to respond to the motion and, thereafter, to provide written or oral reasons for the basis of its ruling. Otherwise, the district court was fully empowered to resolve these discovery disputes in a manner not inconsistent with this opinion. View "Texas Keystone, Inc. v. Prime Natural Resources, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from a dispute between Ghana and Balkan Energy Company where Balkan contracted with Ghana to refurbish and recommission a 125 megawatt power barge. Ghana filed an application for discovery pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1782, seeking documents exchanged in a separate lawsuit between the current defendants. The district court granted Ghana's application and ordered the Missouri companies (collectively ProEnergy) to produce documents. ProEnergy produced some documents and discovery materials from its lawsuit with Balkan, but it refused other documents related to the settlement of that lawsuit. Because ProEnergy had already produced most of the documents, depositions, and interrogatory answers from its lawsuit with Balkan, and because ProEnergy was not party to the foreign litigation, the court was not persuaded that any fundamental unfairness was caused by the district court declining to compel production of the settlement documents. Accordingly, the court affirmed the decision. View "Government of Ghana v. ProEnergy Services, LLC, et al." on Justia Law

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Following about 30 years of oil extraction in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Ecuadorians brought a variety of claims against the company and obtained judgment in Ecuador. Chevron, a potential judgment-debtor, brought action under New York’s Uniform Foreign Country Money-Judgments Recognition Act, N.Y. C.P.L.R. 5301-5309, which allows judgment-creditors to enforce foreign judgments in New York courts, seeking a global anti-enforcement injunction against the Ecuadorians and their attorney to prohibit attempts to enforce the allegedly-fraudulent judgment entered by the Ecuadorian court. The district court granted the injunction. The Second Circuit reversed, vacating the injunction. The Recognition Act does not grant putative judgment-debtors a cause of action to challenge foreign judgments before enforcement of those judgments is sought. Judgment-debtors can challenge a foreign judgment’s validity under the Act only defensively, in response to an attempted enforcement.View "Chevron Corp. v. Donziger" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a complaint against defendant, seeking indemnity and/or contribution based on the damage defendant allegedly caused through gross negligence in removing plaintiff's vessel from a coral reef. At issue was whether the district court properly denied defendant's motion to compel arbitration of the dispute under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 1 et seq., where defendant alleged that the district court erred in refusing to apply English arbitrability law. The court held that based on the Supreme Court's reasoning in First Options of Chicago, Inc. v. Kaplan, courts should apply non-federal arbitrability law only if there was clear and unmistakable evidence that the parties intended to apply such non-federal law. Because there was no clear and unmistakable evidence in this case, federal arbitrability law applied. Under federal arbitrability law, the court's decisions in Mediterranean Enterprises, Inc. v. Ssangyong Construction Co. and Tracer Research Corp. v. National Environmental Services, Co., mandated a narrow interpretation of a clause providing for arbitration of all disputes "arising under" an agreement. Under this narrow interpretation, the present dispute was not arbitrable. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Cape Flattery Ltd. v. Titan Maritime, LLC" on Justia Law