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#464590 - 05/18/13 10:51 AM Treaty Drilling At Will?
Marty Offline
Treaty Energy Belize is an oil exploration company that operates under the umbrella of Princess Petroleum. But in April the Supreme Court declared the Princess Contract null. So why have they resumed drilling operations? In a press release, they said they would based on the advice from their attorneys at Barrow and Williams and Prime Minister Barrow’s press statement. The PM had said that there was nothing stopping them since the injunction was against the government not the oil companies.

And so, according to OCEAN, Treaty Energy has started exploratory work again at a well called San Juan #3. OCEANA maintains that any work Treaty does under the umbrella of the Princess concession is “unlawful, null and void.”

OCEANA also reports that Government has applied for a stay of execution of the injunction issued by Justice Legall to be removed so Treaty and Providence can continue their work.

Hearing for that is scheduled for May 28, 2013 before the Chief Justice.

Channel 7


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#464840 - 05/21/13 11:29 AM Re: Treaty Drilling At Will? [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Treaty Energy resumes drilling despite the potential dangers to communities

As we reported on Friday, Treaty Belize Energy’s drilling operations are in full throttle in San Juan Three in the south. The company shares a joint venture with Princess Petroleum and that license was among a list of six that were declared null and void by the Supreme Court. The government is appealing that decision and Treaty Belize Energy will be applying for a stay. But before all that can happen, operations resumed late last week since the company says it has legal advice from Princess’ attorneys; to the effect that it can proceed with its operations in the area. But there is another aspect which is affecting nearby communities. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

San Juan, a small, predominantly Hispanic community, is a roadside neighborhood of approximately six hundred people.  Located just a few miles outside of Independence, it sits in the heart of the banana belt.  Less than a mile away is Cow Pen, an older community with a population twice its size.  San Juan, by comparison, is fledgling.  To aid in its development residents here were promised many things, including the electrification of the village’s water supply system.  These assurances were made by representatives of Treaty Belize Energy, regardless of an oil find.  Thus far, that covenant isn’t being honored.

Zabdiel Martinez

Zabdiel Martinez, Village Chairman, Cow Pen/San Juan

“Some of the projects that we had agreed to was to get some materials for the village to upgrade some of the streets, to remodel our police station or even the construction of a new police station, also the fencing of our school, San Juan Bosco R.C. School, the upper campus at Cow Pen Village.”

Zabdiel Martinez is the newly re-elected village chairperson.  Along with local businessman Dennis Morey, he signed a tripartite agreement with Treaty for the improvement of both communities.  Morey, who operates a trucking company and is currently mining sand and gravel from the banks of a nearby river, is more than willing to assist in the development of the twin villages.

Dennis Morey

Dennis Morey, Trucker

“I made an agreement with Cow Pen/San Juan village council to supply materials to [Treaty Belize Energy] petroleum company for the upkeep of their base, where they’re doing their drilling and the access roads in and out and other road maintenance within, which would be occurring from time to time within the villages of which a percentage goes to the village council from my behalf.”

To do so, Morey would give five percent of his total earnings from an existing contract with Treaty to the village council, monies that are earmarked for public service.  The initial agreement was for Treaty to purchase a minimum of two hundred loads of material to fill the roads leading to and from the San Juan Three well.  In turn, the village would receive a small portion of the proceeds.  That has not been the case.

Dennis Morey

“The village council really needs the percentage that they are getting.  It’s a small percentage but yet it counts and when we add up two hundred loads at five dollars a load alright, that’s an extra thousand dollars that the village council would be getting that they could put into different infrastructure, helping out the villagers within the village.”

While the company is yet to honor those agreements there are other concerns.  San Juan Three, as the site is referred to, is an unsecured location with what are seemingly inadequate precautions.  It is smack-dab between San Juan and Cow Pen.  The area is not walled off from the public nor is it manned with proper security personnel.

Zabdiel Martinez

“The fencing for security is poor.  Anybody can go in there, animals can go in there, children can go in there.  So, in that I feel that the company itself has failed in that.”

That sentiment is echoed by an erstwhile worker.

Voice of: Former Employee, Treaty Belize Energy

“No consultation was made concerning safety in that region.  Treaty didn’t meet with the village community.  I know they met with leaders of the community.”

Isani Cayetano

“As a former employee, what were some of your concerns with regards to going into that community and carrying out this exercise without first adhering to certain standard procedures and secondly, without informing the residents of the potential hazards that come along with this type of activity?”

Former Employee

“Isani, it’s of great interest because people could be hurt, the population of the village could be hurt, so they should have done some kind of seminar to let people be aware of what’s taking place.”

Notwithstanding the lack of public awareness, residents are cautiously optimistic of an oil find.  Striking black gold here could stir economic activity for the entire area.  San Juan would also be the epicenter of the oil industry in South Stann Creek.

Zabdiel Martinez

“The company is saying if we do find oil there’s going to be development.  Development is going to be high in this area thus, some of the sentiments from the people are saying hopefully they find oil.  Since we are having a lack of assistance from central government, you know, I think we rely on other organizations or projects that can come in and help our villages, you know.  So people were saying [that] if they do find oil then probably we’re going to have a new school, a new computer lab, a new police station.  So that was their sentiment.  I think they were just hoping for the projects to happen.”

Those expectations are proving to be lofty.  With no immediate signs of success there is a certain possibility that the company, at the end of exploration, will relocate and instead of leaving behind proper roads and drainage its wake will only be a boulevard of broken dreams. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Efforts to get comment from local representatives of Treaty Belize Energy have been unsuccessful.

Channel 5


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#465416 - 05/29/13 11:06 AM Re: Treaty Drilling At Will? [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

GOB and OCEANA Back In Court

A month ago, Oceana Belize won a major case against the Government of Belize when Justice Legall declared 6 offshore oil-drilling contracts null and void.

And then, 2 weeks ago, Treaty Energy Belize, the company operating under the umbrella of Princess Petroleum, resumed their oil drilling explorations even after Justice Legall issued an injunction against its agreement with the Government of Belize.

Oceana Belize says that Government should act responsibly and enforce the order of the Supreme Court. They believe that GOB has the authority and is refusing to do so because they don’t like the judgment.

Well, GOB says that the court created a power vacuum by restraining them from acting as the oversight mechanism. They claim that this gives Providence Energy Belize Limited, Princess Petroleum Limited – and by extension Treaty Energy – free reign to do as they please under the PSA’s.

So, this quite substantial difference of opinion has made it before Chief Justice Benjamin, and today he was supposed to hear a case brought by GOB to lift the injunction. We spoke to both sides when they came out of a very brief hearing. Here’s what they told us.

Audrey Matura-Shepherd - VP, Oceana Belize
"So what happened - this morning we were to hear this matter , the stay of execution, maybe people don't understand what has happened. When we won the case when the judge said that all contracts were unlawful, null and void - he also gave an injunction which said that the Government, its servants and its agents should not go about drilling that also means that the Government should do everything if any oil company tried to drill. Of course, based on the evidence that the Government has presented, Princess wrote the Prime Minster, not the Minister of Energy and so did Providence and asked the Government to please come to court now and ask that the injunction be removed, so that's the application they wanted to hear this morning. The Chief Justice said he was not able for two reasons - he had not seen the bundle before with all the cases and authority so it would not be fair for him to hear the matter and also because of what the Government has put in as evidence, we had to go and find an expert to dispute it because they made a lot of claims. For us to get an expert we must first apply to the court to get an expert admitted, that's the rules of our courts. So that was another application that we were not able to do this morning so again in fairness the judge needs to look into all the evidence then consider that."

Denys Barrow - Attorney for GOB
"The Government's involvement is that the injunction granted by Justice Legall has the effect of preventing the Government from regulating, monitoring and guiding what the Peteroleum explorers are doing. So the judgments enjoins the government, it imposes an injunction upon the government but it does nothing to the petroleum explorers so they can do what they want because no judgment binds them. The government is prevented by the injunction from regulating what they're doing, approving or disapproving what they're doing from the injunction says 'carrying out the provisions of the Petroleum sharing agreement'. Therefore, it means the court gave a declaration but there is a very clear law that from the Court of Appeal of Belize says that a declaration does not enforce itself - a declaration says may lawfully be ignored."

Audrey Matura-Shepherd
"I think there's a misconception that people have that the oil companies can go ahead and drill - they cannot and I'll explain why they cannot. The constitution says that all oil is owned by the Government of Belize - the Petroleum act and the subsidiary laws also said that it is only the government can go into oil drilling and exploration and development, however they can contract. At the end of the day the gate keeper is the government so when the gate keeper is stopped from assisting the oil companies in any way - that's how the injunction works. If it were true what the Prime Ministers said that the injunction had no effect then why come to court and have it to be removed. The mere fact that they have to get it removed tells you that the injunction has a great weight."

Denys Barrow
"If the government continues to be bound by the injunction then the Government can't tell them what to do so they would be left to run their exploration without any supervision by the government - that is the whole point of our application. That Justice Legall made a serious mistake because you can't stop one party from a contract, from taking actions and regulating how the contract is to be performed but allow the other party free to do what they are entitled to do lawfully under the contract."

The matter goes back before the court on Tuesday, where Susan Harvey, the international expert from Harvey Consultancy, will provide testimony for Oceana.

Channel 7


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