A Mexican federal district court hearing set for last Wednesday was postponed after the judge in the case removed himself from the proceeding involving Sempra Energy's North Baja California liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal and a disgruntled adjacent landowner, a San Diego-based Sempra spokesperson told NGI.

In another development last month the former landowner, Ramon Eugenio Sanchez Ritchie, filed a new legal action against Sempra in the U.S. District Court in San Diego, seeking compensatory and punitive damages and earnings from Sempra's Energia Costa Azul LNG terminal. Sanchez Ritchie bases his latest lawsuit on allegations that he was wrongfully evicted from the adjacent property near the LNG terminal site.

On July 6 a hearing in a federal district court in Mexico ruled in Sempra Energy's favor but did not end the bitter legal dispute. The would-be landowner continues to seek 250 acres adjacent to the site that he claims to own (see NGI, July 12). The court so far has refused to suspend the LNG plant's operating permits, but ordered another court hearing, which is set for this Thursday (Aug. 5).

Sempra's response to the court action in a San Diego federal court filing reiterated its charge that the plaintiff and his financial backers are attempting "to extract money from [Sempra] and disrupt [the LNG plant] operations.

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