evidence key

It was a Perry Mason moment for the Digital Age, and it came on one of the biggest of stages — in the midst of a heated, $1.4 billion lawsuit between two oil giants squaring off in a Fort Worth, TX courtroom in 2015. Moncrief Oil International had sued Russian oil and gas giant Gazprom over an unsuccessful contract to purchase part of a Russian gas field in the late 1990s. Moncrief alleged that it had shared inside information with Gazprom in 2004 about a planned natural gas plant in Texas, and that Gazprom used that information to cut a better deal with Occidental Petroleum, the plant’s manufacturer. Gazprom denied receiving any trade secrets, only to have Moncrief and its lawyers confront them with a 2004 PowerPoint slide deck. A single slide from that presentation, containing a chart from an analysis of natural gas value claim costs prepared by a University of Texas geologist, was the supposed “smoking gun.”

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