Payments to ENI, Vitol: Springfield secures injunction against GNPC, MoE, MoFEP

"I hereby grant the application for interlocutory injunction directed against the third parties herein from making further payments to the Respondents forthwith pending the determination of the application directed at the GNPC and MoE aforesaid"

Is allowance instantly strangers applauded

Springfield Exploration and production Limited has secured an interlocutory injunction against the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation(GNPC), Ministry of Energy(MOE), and the Ministry of Finance(MoFEP) restraining them from making further payments (outstanding or recurrent) to ENI Ghana and Vitol.

The disputed Sankofa Oil Field is part of the Offshore Cape Three Points (OCTP), located on the coast of Western Ghana, with about 500 million barrels of oil reserves, and 40 billion cubic meters of gas. 

Italian multinational oil giant, ENI is the lead operator in the area whereas Springfield is the lead operator in the West Cape Three Points (WCTP), with the Afina Field.

According to Springfield, various analyses and tests had shown that the accumulation of petroleum in the Sankofa field extended to its contract area (Afina Field).

In April 2020, the then Minister of Energy, Mr. John Peter Amewu, in accordance with Section 34(1) of the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act, 2016 (Act 919), directed ENI and Springfield to execute a unitisation with respect to the Sankofa field in the OCTP and Afina discoveries in the WCTP contract areas.

It is Springfield’s case that the defendants, ENI and its partners Vitol Upstream Ltd, had failed to comply with the directives of the Minister.

As a result, on July 9, 2020, Springfield instituted an action at the High Court(Commercial Division) and sought against the Defendants(ENI& Vitol) the following;

An order directed at them to comply with the said April 9, 2022, directed of the Minister for Energy and enter into an agreement forthwith with it to produce and develop the accumulation of the petroleum in the Sanko and Afina fields as a single unit.

An order directed at defendants to co-operate with Plaintiff to produce and develop the accumulation of petroleum in its Sankofa and Afina fields as one unit.

An order directed at Defendants to render accounts to the Plaintiffs in respect of costs and proceeds received by ENI and Vitol for its exploration and production activities in its Sankofa field from 2009, when they commenced exploration of the said field till then.

An order that any income, profits on other finds due Springfield from ENI and Vitol exploration and production activities in the Sankofa fields be paid to its upon taking such on the account.

Preservation Ruling

On June 25, 2021, the High Court, presided over by Justice Mariama Sammo, ordered that 30 percent of all funds, revenue, and monies earned, paid to, and accruing from the exploration and production of petroleum by ENI Ghana and Vitol Upstream Limited from the Sankofa Field be preserved, and in the interest of the parties be deposited into an interest-bearing account with a bank to be agreed between the parties.

Notwithstanding, Springfield Exploration filed a motion for interlocutory injunction against the GNPC, Ministry of Energy, and the Ministry of Finance relative to payments they have been making to the defendants; ENI and Vitol.

In its motion, Springfield averred among others that it has a preservation ruling in its favor which though being contested by the defendants in various judicial fora, has not been stayed.

Further to the above, Springfield noted that despite the above ruling, the respondents have through the filing of various applications in various courts, frustrated its compliance and execution.

Also, it said that in addition to the above, the resources which are alleged to be jointly owned by them and the respondents are being dissipated by the latter on their blind side and also receiving payments monthly from GNPC, MOE, and MoFEP without accounting for the same to them nor the court.

In its consideration of the applicant’s grounds for the motion, the court made the determination that even though the persons against whom the order was being sought, were not parties to the suit, such an order could still be obtained and same enforced against them per Order 43 rule 9(2) of C.I. 47.

Having considered the above, the court, presided over by Justice Mariama Sammo granted Springfield’s interlocutory injunction against GNPC, MOE, and MoFEP and directed the same to cease making further payments to ENI and Vitol pending the determination of the application.

Moreover, the court ordered GNPC, MOE, and MoFEP to file accounts within twenty-one (21) days from the day of the ruling, all payments they have made to ENI and Vitol since the day of service of the application on them.