Gulf Keystone Petroleum is facing a legal battle over its Iraqi oil fields, after an advisory company run by a former US special forces officer filed a claim for up to 30pc of its lucrative reserves.
The £1.25bn AIM-listed explorer saw its share price dive 17 to 167½p after disclosing that it is strongly contesting a suit filed 12 days ago in London’s Commercial Court. It has also been hit with a request for arbitration proceedings in New York.
The claim has been brought by Excalibur Ventures LLC, described on its website as offering advisory services related to Iraq – from project finance to translators and security. It is run by Rex Wempen, co-founder of the US-Iraq chamber of commerce and former security consultant.
Excalibur is claiming that it introduced Gulf Keystone Petroleum’s management to opportunities in Iraq’s Kurdistan region and had a contract to develop the area together three years ago. It also applied for a freezing order on Gulf Keystone’s assets, which was rebuffed by the London court.
Gulf Keystone is expected to argue that it never had a contract with Excalibur, but admit that its chief executive Todd Kozel had worked with Mr Wempen through a private company Texas Keystone.