19th July, 2019
1. HARTSHORN J. This is a decision on a contested application for a stay of proceedings pending an arbitration.
2. The plaintiff (Lasco) submits that the facts are amongst others that:
a) Interoil Corporation (Interoil) was granted 100% ownership in several petroleum prospecting licences (PPL’s) in Papua New Guinea;
b) Under an Amended and Restated Indirect Participation Agreement dated 25th February 2005 (2005 IPI Agreement), in exchange for investment funds, Interoil gave rights in PPL’s to investor parties;
c) In November 2010 Petroleum Retention Licence 15 (PRL 15) was issued and is covered by the 2005 IPI Agreement;
d) Interoil consented to investor parties converting their interests in PRL 15 from indirect participation to direct licence interests. Lasco now holds and has the right to register a 0.5% license interest in PRL 15;
e) ExxonMobil PNG Ltd succeeded to Interoil’s rights and obligations. ExxonMobil PNG Ltd disputes this and says that ExxonMobil Canada Holdings ULC (ExxonMobil Canada) succeeded to Interoil’s rights and obligations;
f) Lasco unsuccessfully requested Interoil/ExxonMobil’s assistance to register its 0.5% interest;
g) Lasco had its interest registered on the Oil and Gas Register, but this registration has been removed.
h) Lasco commenced this proceeding by originating summons and seeks amongst others a declaration that its 0.5% interest in PRL 15 be registered on the Oil and Gas Register and that the interest of ExxonMobil PNG Antelope Limited, the second defendant, in PRL 15, be reduced. A mandatory injunction requiring Lasco to be included in certain agreements for the Papua LNG project is also sought;
i) Two weeks after this proceeding was commenced, ExxonMobil filed competing proceedings in Texas, USA and seeks to enjoin Lasco and the two antecedent Lasco entities which funded and nominated Lasco in an arbitration in Texas, USA;
j) ExxonMobil also filed a Demand for Arbitration on 22nd April 2019 with the International Center for Dispute Resolution office in Houston, Texas;
k) The second, third and ninth defendants (referred to as applicants or ExxonMobil Parties) on 23rd April 2019 filed an application to stay this proceeding until determination of legal proceedings and arbitration proceedings in Texas, USA, claiming that the parties to the 2005 IPI Agreement have agreed to the determination of one issue relevant to this matter in that jurisdiction. Lasco objects to this application.