Jul. 17, 2013
Court ruling in favour of GSI

Geophysical Service Incorporated   July 17, 2013  

A Supreme Court justice in Nova Scotia has ruled in favour of Geophysical Service Incorporated on a point of procedure in a lawsuit with the provinces offshore regulator.

In January of this year, the Calgary based seismic company launched a lawsuit against the Canada Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board over seismic data submitted to the regulator during three decades of work offshore Nova Scotia.

 Paul Einarsson says the CNSOPB is treating his company’s seismic data as if it owns it making the point it is “expropriation without compensation.”

GSI claims the data produced from non-exclusive surveys from 1971 to 2006 is confidential, registered copyright and constitutes trade secrets.

The Chief Operating Officer and Chairman of GSI wants the regulator to return or destroy all of the data it acquired, claiming the company has suffered irreparable harm by the CNSOPB’s disclosure of the seismic data to third parties.

Geophysical Service Incorporated applied for a Nova Scotia Supreme Court order declaring that the board’s demands that the company provide it with all the records of non-exclusive seismic survey work  it has done off Nova Scotia are unlawful and not authorized. The application questions whether the CNOSPB has the statutory authority to demand the seismic data in the first place.

Some of the data includes the first ever 3-D seismic programs in Canada including earlier work done around Sable Island.

GSI plans, collects, and invests millions into its seismic data and licenses it to users which are typically large oil and gas companies under agreements that place restrictions on use and disclosure.

The board argues that GSI has no copyright on the data and denies that the company has been harmed by the requirement that states all operators conducting seismic surveys offshore Nova Scotia must submit their seismic data as a requirement to obtain permits to do the work.

After GSI launched the lawsuit, the Attorney General representing the regulator filed an application to have the proceeding thrown out, arguing that it should be properly determined by a judicial review, despite the deadline for this process being passed. This would have terminated GSI’s legal challenge without deciding its merits.

The application was heard in early May and in a ruling released on July 7th of this year Madame Justice Heather Robertson rejected the Attorney General’s application. The justice awarded $1,000 in court costs to GSI and instructed the parties to go back to court on a motion for directions in the main proceeding.

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