HOUSTON (CN) – Oilman Jack Grynberg claims ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips swiped his rights to a Kazakhstan oilfield he discovered and got a 40-year concession to help develop it, by participating in a scheme to pay “a $175 million criminal bribe … to top Kazakh officials.”
Grynberg and his company Pricaspian Development Corp. sued the two oil companies in Harris County Court.
“Grynberg is the original discoverer of the massive Greater Kashagan Oil Fields (‘GKOF’), located under the Northeastern Caspian Sea, in the Republic of Kazakhstan,” the complaint states.
Grynberg says the field is expected to start producing by 2014, and “is widely believed to contain between 6.4 to as much as 60 billion barrels of recoverable oil” and “25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.”
Grynberg claims he shared confidential seismic information about the oilfield with members of a consortium formed to develop the property, based on their promises to not share the trade secrets.
He claims ExxonMobil and ConocoPhilips are part of this seven-member international consortium that is working the field, and that ExxonMobil owns a 16.81 percent stake, and ConocoPhillips an 8.4 percent share.
ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips obtained their interest through a “secret and illegal conspiracy with other oil companies spearheaded by James H. Giffen, who had managed to place himself in the position of top adviser to the government of Kazakhstan on oil, natural gas exploration and elemental sulphur, development and production matters,” according to the complaint.
Giffen is not named as a defendant.
Grynberg claims that working with Giffen, the consortium “obtained a 40-year production sharing agreement from Kazakhstan, superseding Mr. Grynberg’s contract with the government, to develop and produce the GKOF in exchange for a $40 million criminal bribe each to top Kazakh officials.”
Grynberg claims that Giffen has been indicted in the United States for Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations, based on claims that he orchestrated the bribes.
He seeks punitive damages for Kazakhstan civil violations, unjust enrichment, misappropriation of trade secrets, and deceptive trade.
He also wants the defendants ordered to pay him cash equal to 20 percent of their interest in the GKOF.
Grynberg is represented by Leigh Parker Jr. of Beaumont.
Grynberg is a frequent flyer in oil-related lawsuits, appearing 34 times as a plaintiff and 7 times as a defendant in the Courthouse News database, since 2007.