A jury in South Texas has awarded nearly $100 million in damages to a small Houston-based energy company, after ruling that the former Talisman Energy Inc. violated a joint operating agreement (JOA) with the company and committed accounting fraud.
The award to Matrix Petroleum LLC in the 218th Judicial District Court, which is in La Salle County, comes from lost proceeds from wells in the Eagle Ford Shale. Matrix was a non-operating working interest partner with Talisman in oil production leases on the Cooke Ranch, near Cotulla, TX.
Spain's Repsol SA acquired Talisman in May 2015, in a deal valued at $8.3 billion. Talisman has since become Repsol Oil & Gas Canada Inc.
Matrix alleged that shortly after it entered the JOA in 2011, Talisman began drilling three wells on an adjacent lease, but not at Cooke Ranch. Matrix said the delay nearly resulted in the JOA losing its drilling rights at Cooke Ranch because work did not begin there within a 90-day period. Talisman representatives then allegedly dismissed concerns levied by Matrix officials over the JOA.
"The simple fact was that Talisman failed to provide accurate accounting on volume and revenues for more than five years," said John Kim, founder of The Kim Law Firm, the Houston-based agency that represented Matrix in the month-long trial. "It was not an oversight or an error in record-keeping. It was a conscious business decision that robbed Talisman's business partners of millions upon millions of dollars in its revenues from real property interests."
Repsol officials could not be reached for comment Monday. According to reports, Repsol could file an appeal of the verdict.
In a statement, Kim alleged that Talisman "acted unilaterally 'hundreds' of times on developmental and operational matters in direct violation of the production field governing documents for Cooke Ranch," including the JOA.
"Through their actions and inactions, including ignoring multiple requests from Matrix for required daily drilling reports and detailed accounting statements, Talisman put the business interests of everyone in the JOA in jeopardy," Kim said. "We are pleased that the jury recognized the exceptional arrogance central to Talisman's business practices and did not allow them to walk away from their actions."