A US$219 million dollar claim filed by Trinidad Energy Investments Ltd (Teil) chairman Karl Hudson-Phillips, QC, has been settled at US$8 million. The claim was filed in the Port-of-Spain High Court after the former administration failed to follow through with plans to supply natural gas to an ammonia/urea mega plant at the Point Lisas Industrial Estate.
It was in 2007 Hudson Phillips, businessman Gerald Hadeed and attorney Garvin Simonette had approached the former administration with the business plan. Approval was granted by the National Gas Corporation (NGC) and the business venture went before the Cabinet energy subcommittee headed by former prime minister, Patrick Manning and included former energy czar Ken Julien and former ministers Lenny Saith and Conrad Enill.
The plan was approved by Cabinet and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Teil and the former administration was agreed upon in 2005. The company, Teil, possessed the only vacant 50-acre parcel of land at the Point Lisas Industrial Estate and together with sporting facilities was expected to facilitate ammonia/urea plant.
Following the signing of the MoU, Teil invested some US$15 million towards the plant. The investments included negotiations with international financiers from the United States, Europe and the far East. Having entered into the MoU, the former administration and the NGC informed Teil that they would no longer be able to supply natural gas needed for the support of the construction of the plant.
An agreement to purchase the ammonia and urea product was also in place following the completion of the plant. As a result, Teil issued a notice against the Government for breach of the agreement. The failure of the previous administration to abide by the terms of the MoU led to High Court proceedings being commenced on behalf of Teil against the Attorney General, NGC and the National Energy Corporation of T&T. In its claim, Teil stated it had undertaken the following:
• Secured appropriate land at the Point Lisas for construction of the project
• Obtained a certificate of environmental clearance to commence site preparation/construction
• Reached an advanced stage of environmental impact assessment
As a result of the failure to provide natural gas for the plant, Teil claimed damages in the sum of US$218,875,209.70 The company also claimed alternative damages amounting to US$9,315,430.32. Exemplary and punitive damages for misrepresentation was also filed. Attorney Martin Daly, SC, and Gerard Ramdeen appeared on behalf of the State.