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GHL gets restraining order against Dolphin Drilling to prevent rig deal termination

GHL gets restraining order against Dolphin Drilling to prevent rig deal termination


Nigerian offshore oil and gas company General Hydrocarbons Limited (GHL) has secured a restraining order against Dolphin Drilling and its African subsidiary regarding a dispute over the Blackford Dolphin rig.

The restraining orders, given by Justice Akintayo Aluko of the Federal High Court in Lagos, prevent Dolphin Drilling, its subsidiaries, agents, servants, privies, or anybody acting on their behalf from removing, demobilising, or decommissioning the Blackford Dolphin rig from the field it was working on before a hearing to determine its faith.

According to local media, the court also restrained the two firms from interfering with the rights of GHL under the contract for using the rig.

The semisub rig owner terminated the contract with GHL for the rig at the end of April. The two companies reached an agreement in March for past-due payments from GHL to Dolphin Drilling and the remaining work under the drilling contract for the rig.

The Norwegian company received further payment and the rig continued operations for GHL. The next payment in the plan was due by late April 2024. As the payment was not made, Dolphin Drilling issued a notice of termination to GHL.

As the rig had no other contractual obligations in the country, it was supposed to exit Nigeria and prepare for transit to India to begin work for Oil India Limited.

Dolphin Drilling said in an Oslo Bors filing last week that GHL disputed the termination of the contract and that it requested arbitration to pursue the recovery of sums remaining due by GHL.

The offshore driller was informed of an application to the Nigerian courts for an interim injunction seeking to maintain the status quo, pending the appointment of an arbitrator.

GHL also took Dolphin Drilling to court asking that it fulfil its contractual obligations, which – it claims – were affected by technical challenges with the BOP system on the Blackford Dolphin rig.

In the suit, the Nigerian firm stated the offshore driller breached the terms of the deal when its blow-out prevention system failed a performance test. Dolphin Drilling then, allegedly, served a notice of termination and attempted to demobilise the rig.

Nigerian media revealed that the Norwegian rig owner failed to discharge the restraining order at the last hearing. GHL also successfully won a request for an emergency arbitrator to be appointed by the court. The judge ruled that an emergency arbitrator would be appointed within 24 hours. Other motions will be considered next week.

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Published: 15-05-2024

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