Dolphin Drilling, Norwegian Rig and Drilling Services Company’s Bid to Vacate Injunction in Nigeria Fails

Dolphin Drilling Limited, a Norwegian Rig and Drilling Services company, on Tuesday at the Federal High Court in Lagos failed in its bid to vacate a substantive interim injunction order issued against it, upon the application of General Hydrocarbons Limited (GHL), a Nigerian offshore oil and gas company.

General Hydrocarbons Limited, the only fully indigenous offshore oil and gas company, is the operator of OMLs 120 and 121, with a mission is to carry out the commercial development and exploration of deep offshore energy resources and assets located in the resource rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria for the people of Africa.

GHL had engaged the services of the drilling company for work on its Ewo field but the relationship soured when Dolphin Drilling abruptly stopped work in February, which led to GHL terminating the contract.

The parties attempted to revive their contractual relationship vide a side letter dated 22nd of March 2024.

But contrary to claims by Dolphin Drilling that there were payment issues, GHL contended that the Blackford Dolphin rig was unserviceable for a prolonged period of time following the side letter agreement and required Dolphin Drilling to make good on its contractual obligations.

At the same time, GHL provided Dolphin Drilling with comfort letters from reputable global financial institutions. The Norwegian company rig and drilling services company breached the terms of the side letter when its Blow-out Prevention (BOP) System failed a performance test. 

Dolphin Drilling then served a defective notice of termination and attempted to demobilise the Blackford Dolphin rig. GHL took Dolphin Drilling to court seeking for it to fulfil its contractual obligations, which was affected by technical challenges with its BOP system on the Blackford Dolphin rig.

GHL was granted an injunction barring Dolphin Drilling from taking away Blackford Dolphin rig from Nigeria until the arbitration instituted by GHL was determined. The order of interim injunction ordered by Hon. Justice Akintayo Aluko of the Federal High Court, Lagos restrains Dolphin Drilling, their agents, servants, privies or anybody acting on their behalf from removing, demobilising or decommissioning the Blackford Dolphin rig from the field of the applicant pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction filed contemporaneously.

At the Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday, Dolphin Drilling, through its lawyer, failed in its attempt to discharge the restraining order.

GHL also won its request for an emergency arbitrator to be appointed by the court. The judge ruled that appointment of an emergency arbitrator will be made within 24 hours, while other motions will be considered next week.

Click to see injucntion restraining Dolphin Drilling

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