Gulf Keystone Petroleum Limited (LON: GKP) says its ongoing dispute with Excalibur could take at least another three months.
Gulf Keystone Petroleum (LSE: GKP) is locked in a court battle with Excalibur Ventures at the moment over the fate of a 30% interest in its multi-billion barrel oil assets in Kurdistan.
The dispute dates back to 2006, and relates to verbal promises allegedly made in a car park following a fiery meeting with a government minister.
On Friday, the English Commercial Court ordered Excalibur to pay £8m within 21 days into Court as additional security for costs incurred. A further £90,000 of interim payments are also due within 14 days.
Three more months
Of perhaps more interest to investors was an update on the potential timetable for the judgment.
Before the case began, it was hoped that a judgment might be forthcoming by now. However, Gulf Keystone now says the trial is expected to conclude in either late February or early March. Then, due to the size of the case, completion of the judgment may take "in excess of three months".
In the meantime, Gulf Keystone continues to press ahead with its development plans for the huge Shaikan discovery in Kurdistan. A 'Field Development Plan' should be submitted shortly, with initial production of 40,000 barrels of oil per day targeted by the end of this year. Longer term, production could reach 10 times that level, if all goes to plan.
Although Gulf Keystone expects to win the court case with Excalibur, the dispute is currently seen as a barrier to any takeover of the company, which many commentators see as the most likely outcome.
Gulf Keystone shares were unchanged at 200p this morning, pretty much the level they traded at when the court case began, but less than half their peak level set this time last year. The company is currently valued at £1.75bn, making its AIM's most highly valued company, a few million pounds ahead of Indus Gas.
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> Stuart does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned above.