London, 1 June 2004 – LAWFUEL – In an astonishing court room reversal, global law firm Linklaters has turned claims of around US$245 million against their client Petrobras into a US$105 million win.
The two related London court cases concern the P36 oil and gas rig, which tragically exploded and sank 190km off Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in March 2001. The rig – then the world’s largest oil and gas production platform – had recently undergone a major upgrade that saw the immense manmade structure towed across the Atlantic from Italy to a shipyard in Quebec and then to the Roncador oil field off-shore Brazil.
A company in the Maritima group, ultimately controlled by Brazilian entrepreneur German Efromovich, managed the P36 upgrading work. That company brought claims concerning the costs of the work against the rig’s operator Petrobras, the Brazilian state oil company. In February this year the English Commercial Court threw out over US$80 million of those claims and found that Maritima itself is liable to Petrobras for over US$105 million.
In related proceedings Maritima companies and SANA (the owner of P36) also claimed US$165 million from what insurers had paid to Petrobras on the loss of P36. In a judgment delivered on 20 May 2004 the English Commercial Court threw out all of those claims.
Linklaters litigator Justin Williams, who led on both cases, said:
“Maritima shot themselves in the foot. Not only did we defeat their claim but we also won a substantial amount for Petrobras. Maritima must rue the day they fired off a writ.”
Linklaters’ involvement in P36 dates from 1997, when asset finance partner Ron Gibbs undertook the financing work for the upgrade and oversaw the complex charter arrangements.
Justin Williams said:
“This success demonstrates the benefits of Linklaters’ strategy of a sector-based approach and building close relationships between our litigation department and other practice areas. In this case deployment of our energy and construction disputes team and working together with asset finance colleagues was critical to the outcome.”
The case does not relate to the loss of P36.