New Verve court bid on Varanus damages
Dmamge at the Varanus plant. Picture: Sharon Smith/ The West Australian

The three-year $40 million legal battle between State-owned Verve Energy and three of the world's biggest oil companies, plus resource giants Woodside and BHP Billiton, is set to flare again today.

Verve will return to the Appeals Court in a bid to overturn an adverse ruling in its high-profile damages claim flowing from the 2008 Varanus Island explosion.

Following the explosion on the Apache Energy-run Varanus facility, the rival North-West Shelf project effectively controlled the State's entire gas supplies.

The fuel was selling up to four times the normal rate, which Verve said was extortionate.

Verve claimed the Shelf partners, who include Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron and BP, "unjustly enriched" themselves by breaking a long-term contract and supplying gas at a much higher price.

But this was rejected by Supreme Court Justice Rene Le Miere last year, when he said Verve was not forced into signing the temporary gas contracts and had failed to prove "illegitimate pressure" was applied by the NW Shelf partners.

Verve declined to comment, but a spokesman for the NW Shelf venture said it was not unusual for parties to have different interpretations of contracts.

The West Australian

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