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Political parties wrangle over oil exploration rights

Published:Wednesday | April 14, 2010 | 12:00 AM

ST GEORGE'S, Grenada (CMC):

Former deputy Prime Minister Gregory Bowen has criticised the Grenada government over its refusal to grant a licence to a Russian company to search for oil in local waters.

Bowen, who served as energy minister in the former Keith Mitchell administration that had negotiated the agreement with Global Petroleum Group (GPG), is appealing to the Tillman Thomas government to honour the accord.

But last week, Finance Minister Nazim Burke said the government was adopting a cautious approach in dealing with the situation in light of a police report regarding the operations of the Russian company and an outstanding court case involving an American company.

Bowen was also critical of statements by the government that public workers were not involved in the negotiations with the Russians and that relevant documents outlining the terms of the agreement could not be found.

"They (the government) are insinuating that they cannot find the documents. All they have to do is speak with GPG. Don't let them wait 16 months to talk to you and you are not talking to them. And you will get all the answers," said Bowen.

The former energy minister has also defended the decision of the Mitchell administration to agree to a deal that allows the Russian company to pay Grenada's legal fees in the court challenge by the American company.

Bowen said a number of international companies from Britain to Australia had rejected Grenada's request, asking that they pay the legal fees in the court battle with the Denver-based RSM Corporation, headed by Jack Grynberg. RSM has accused the government of reneging on an oil exploration contract and signing a new deal with GPG.

Grenada's efforts to find oil may have also suffered another setback last month after Grynberg sued the British law firm, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which has been representing Grenada in the dispute.

The suit alleges that the law firm, "had knowledge that their retainer was being paid through (a) corrupt relationship."

On Monday, Grenada said that it would sign a maritime boundary agreement with Trinidad and Tobago on April 21.