Interpretation of standard parent company guarantee with legal basis in the Petroleum Act

Supreme Court judgment 20 March 2020, HR-2020-611-A, (case no. 19-120229SIV-HRET), civil case, appeal against judgment. 

Skeie Technology AS (Counsel Kyrre Eggen) v. The State represented by the Ministry of Finance (The Office of the Attorney General represented by Ole Kristian Rigland assisted by Anders Flaatin Wilhelmsen)

Justices: Indreberg, Bergsjø, Falch, Høgetveit Berg, Steinsvik

In 2008, an oil company was awarded a participating interest in a production licence on the Norwegian continental shelf in return for the issue of a so-called parent company guarantee towards the State. The company bought seismic and other services from another company, and received from the State the tax value of these costs – so-called exploration reimbursement – constituting a considerable amount. When it became clear that the object of buying the services was to receive the exploration reimbursement, and not to search for petroleum, the State requested repayment of the exploration reimbursement amount. A payment request was also issued to the parent company under the parent company guarantee. The Supreme Court's majority of four justices found, unlike the Court of Appeal, that the claim for repayment was not covered by the guarantee. It was found that the guarantee was limited to covering obligations undertaken by the licensee in the capacity of a rightholder, and that any obligations undertaken outside the production licence were not covered. The parent company was not liable for the State's claim. Dissenting votes 4-1.

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