Dastardly deeds in data room

Courtroom tussle of field tapes sees Olympia, Aspect Resources in Louisiana court.

Earlier this month, the 36th District Court of Beauregard Parish, Louisiana, issued its reasons for judgment in a case that set Olympia Minerals (then an El Paso unit) against Aspect Resources and a predecessor of Kerr-McGee (subsequently acquired by Anadarko). In 2000, Aspect and Kerr-McGee agreed to conduct a 3D seismic survey on Olympia’s 445 sq. mi. lease in western Louisiana, to sublease at least 15% of the acreage and to provide Olympia with a copy of the seismic data, including in the form of raw data or field tapes. But Aspect provided only processed seismic data to Olympia. Subsequently, Aspect and Kerr-McGee claimed that Olympia had ‘misused’ its seismic data by allowing a third party to remove data from a data room and put it on its computer system. The court found that the evidence ‘strongly suggested that Aspect had played an ‘inexcusable shell game’ and struck the contractual limitation on consequential damages, awarding damages for loss of royalties and ordering Aspect to provide Olympia with the field tapes.

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