Apache Energy has made a desperate last-minute bid to suppress details of its lucrative gas contract with Norwegian fertiliser giant Yara International, as part of new court action launched by former tycoon Pankaj Oswal.
Lawyers for the US-based Apache and Yara lodged 11th hour affidavits in the Federal Court yesterday morning, in a bid to stop the valuable information being released as part of Mr Oswal's legal battle with receivers of his one-time company Burrup Fertilisers.
Justice Antony Siopis granted the request, saying any contract information would not be read in court.
The contract forms part of a separate legal push Mr Oswal is mounting in Texas against Houston-headquartered Apache, claiming it plotted with Yara to carve up Burrup when they took control of the Pilbara operation in February.
Mr Oswal claims that, in the process, Apache enriched its gas sales agreement which feeds Burrup's fertiliser plant, undermining the value of his family's one-time 65 per cent holding in Burrup.
The original GSA, signed by Mr Oswal a decade ago and which underpinned Burrup Fertilisers' big profits, was based on a gas price starting at 96¢ a gigajoule and rising gradually to a cap of about $1.60.
But the new price is understood to be about $5 per gigajoule.
Yara is said to have rationalised the increase on the basis of it getting Apache onside and the price still being cheaper than other West Australian or global gas prices.
An Apache spokesman said it was not a party to the current Federal Court proceedings, and would not comment further on matters before other courts.
Mr Oswal's action launched yesterday in Perth represents a rarely tried test case: he is asking the Federal Court to rule on PPB Advisory's management of the firm while it was receiver under section 423 of the Corporations Act.
ANZ appointed PPB as Burrup's receivers in December 2010 in a bid to recoup about $860 million owed by Mr Oswal citing financial irregularities.
Peter Collinson SC, for Mr Oswal, told the court that PPB had exceeded its powers as receiver and had failed in its equity obligations to Mr Oswal.
This was because it sold only the Oswal family's shares in Burrup Fertilisers rather than using at least $130 million in cash balances to pay down ANZ's debts or undertaking a full sale of Burrup's assets.
"You either have to sell assets or use revenues to pay down debts," Mr Collinson said. "You can't simply sit there and manage (the company) alone."
Receivers are pursing a counterclaim against Mr Oswal for more than $200 million they say he improperly siphoned from the company, which he disputes.
In the past the receivers have complained Mr Oswal has failed to return to Australia from Dubai to face the allegations.Yara declined to comment.
The new magazine for a new generation of West Australians.Click here to download »
All the latest market figures from Australia and the world.Click here »
'The West Australian' is a trademark of West Australian Newspapers Limited 2013.
All rights reserved.
Select your state to see news for your area.