Harken Case Stalled by Gov’t Disorganization

December 23, 2005

GOVERNMENT disorganization in the submission of evidence to rescind a contract with Harken Costa Rica Holdings, a subsidiary of the North American firm Harken Energy, to explore and draw oil from the province of Limón, led to suspension of the judicial process surrounding this case last week, the daily La República reported.

On Nov. 29, the financial administrative court resolving the dispute between the state and the oil exploration company which filed a lawsuit against the country after the contract was annulled in 2002 gave the Ministry of the Environment and Energy (MINAE) eight days to present 18 documents that either lacked certification or were missing from the evidence, according to the daily.

The court warned that if the documents were not presented as required, the case could be shelved.

In 2003, Harken submitted and withdrew a request for international arbitration through the Washington D.C.-based InternationalCenter for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, asking for $57 billion, which at that time was equivalent to four times Costa Rica s gross domestic product (TT, Oct. 10, 2003).

However, Harken s contract established that all disputes should be handled through the Costa Rican judicial system. The judicial process started last October, the daily La Nación reported.

 

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