Excalibur is suing Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP) over Kurdistan's 11-billion-barrel Shaikan oil field in a vigorously-contested lawsuit.
The company had a "collaboration agreement" with Texas Keystone, a private company owned by GKP's chairman Todd Kozel and his brothers, giving it 30pc of fields won in any joint bids.
According to London's Telegraph, Excalibur, which introduced Mr Kozel to Iraq, says it was therefore shocked when GKP struck a deal in November 2007 with Hungarian company Mol.
In the lawsuit, it emerges that GKP, Texas Keystone and Excalibur were all named on a draft bid for Shaikan – four months before the final deal.
GKP says the draft was shown to Kurdistan's oil minister in July 2007 but the government did not want Excalibur to take part and made clear it was not eligible.
The case, due to be heard in London in October 2012 [corrected as per comment below from BT. Thanks! - Ed.], will have to determine whether GKP and Excalibur were contractually bound to bid as a consortium.
Excalibur insists it was understood that Texas Keystone was an "agent" of GKP, because a US company would be more attractive to Kurdistan than a Bermudan one. GKP is adamant that it was and is entirely separate.
GKP also says it gave Excalibur the opportunity to participate after November 2007, but it could not raise the money for a signing bonus.
Harvey Rands at Memery Crystal, which is acting for GKP, said:
"Excalibur refused to sign a contract with Gulf. After the Kurdish petroleum law was published, Excalibur realised and accepted it could not participate in a contract. The oil minister required Gulf to join with a very substantial partner, Mol. Excalibur was offered the chance to farm in but could not raise the necessary funds."
Excalibur is expected to reply arguing it could not raise cash because GKP was refusing to confirm its stake.
(Source: The Telegraph)