Just over four months after launching its first cargo of oil from the Gulf Coast of Texas, Max Midstream appears to be navigating hot water. The fledgling pipeline and shipping company – founded by Houston property developer Todd Edwards and UK financier Azad Cola – shipped its first oil in May, the last in June and has since been hit by a string of costly lawsuits alleging crimes of counterfeit fraud, as well as a lien on his properties for $ 1.4 million in unpaid bills.
The company was founded in 2019 to transform the oil transportation facility at the Port of Calhoun in Point Comfort, Texas from a small port to a large oil export hub. The plan was to hijack the business of export giants Galveston and Corpus Christi by modernizing port facilities, dredging the local shipping channel and building new pipelines between two major oil centers in Texas and the port of Calhoun. . He also announced plans for new storage facilities at both hubs and a new fleet of oil tanks at the port to handle the increased throughput.
All of these efforts were aimed at getting a cut of the oil produced in the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico, and the Eagle Ford Basin in Texas, and shipping it to Europe.
To support the project, the Calhoun Port Authority last year issued $ 85 million in bonds on behalf of Max Midstream so that it can start modernizing port operations. That amount was increased to $ 120 million in June to include upgrades to facilities at the Edna, Texas oil center.
Texas Railroad Commission records show Max Midstream now operates three pipelines that connect oil hubs to the port of Calhoun. But according to the port’s shipping records, Max Midstream has not moved oil since June 19, and people working at the port confirm that since that date the company’s oil-loading equipment has not moved. not been used.
And then there is the legal fireworks display.
In May, Bay Limited, a subcontractor for construction work at the Port of Calhoun, claimed it had not been paid and filed a $ 1.4 million lien on the Max Midstream property at postage for reimbursement.
In June, Petrolix, another construction company, alleged that Max Midstream had not paid for its work at the port and sued for fraud and breach of contract.
Then, in July, Max Midstream and NFG Energy Services, the main contractor for the port’s works, filed dueling lawsuits within hours of each other in district court. Max Midstream is suing for breach of contract, claiming that NFG did not pay the subcontractors and refused to complete the work.
Meanwhile, NFG is suing Max Midstream, Edna Terminal, Seahawk Pipeline, and Seahawk Terminal – other LLCs for which Edwards is president and Cola is an officer – for more than $ 38 million (plus interest) for non-payment and breach of contract.
NFG alleges that she was not paid for pipeline work, repair of tanks and construction of facilities carried out in and around the port of Calhoun from September 2019.
In another case, NFG Energy Services is suing Edna Terminal for infringement. NFG says it purchased 1.4 acres of property to complete pipeline projects under contract with Edna Terminal. NFG alleges that the signatures on a November 2020 transfer of ownership giving the land to Edna Terminal are fraudulent because the director of NFG was recovering from a serious car accident and was not present to sign the papers.
These are only cases of construction work, payment and forgery.
The latest complaint, filed on September 19, comes from Vault Davinci Resources, a Houston-based investment firm. According to the lawsuit, in March 2019, Vault Davinci loaned $ 800,000 to Pall Mall Oil and Gas Texas Holdings, another company run by Edwards. Vault Davinci is seeking repayment of over $ 1 million in principal and interest on the loan, as well as possible punitive damages and attorney fees.
The lawsuit claims that Edwards and his Pall Mall partners sold Vault Davinci on an investment plan to build pipelines and port infrastructure. The lawsuit claims that Pall Mall agents provided false papers on these plans, did not repay the loan, and appear to have made no effort to repay the loan.
According to records from OpenCorporates, Edwards incorporated Pall Mall Oil and Gas Texas Holdings approximately six months before forming Max Midstream. And in August of this year, Pall Mall “Forfeited Existence,” according to the Texas Secretary of State’s office. Basically, the state revoked the company’s right to do business.
Unlike the pages of verbose legal documents, Max Midstream has been silent. On the company’s website, its regular updates ended in April.
Several phone calls and emails sent to Edwards and Max Midstream were answered by Kasey Pipes, partner at lobbying and public relations firm Corley + Pipes of Fort Worth and Washington, DC. Pipes – whose website says he was an adviser to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and President George W. Bush – asked questions on behalf of Max Midstream, then did not respond to several follow-up emails and phone calls .
The Calhoun port expansion project has been controversial since it was first announced. Part of the plans include the dredging of a deeper shipping lane through Matagorda Bay and the dredging and construction of new port facilities next to a mercury-contaminated Superfund site. All of this angers local environmentalists, commercial fishermen and crabbers who fear dredging could spill mercury-contaminated mud into the local fishery.
And although it is not known what is going on with Max Midstream, maintenance dredging work at the port has already started.
This outraged Diane Wilson – a legendary or notorious local activist, depending on who you ask.
Its years-long fight against the local operations of international industrial giant Formosa Plastics Corporation over the dumping of plastic waste in Matagorda Bay has earned it a $ 50 million settlement – money that has been used to revitalize local fishing businesses. and shrimp in the Calhoun region.
From the start, she has led the fight against Calhoun Port expansion plans as they threaten the health of the bay and rebounding fishing businesses. And she calls the series of lawsuits against Max Midstream and the dredging “crazy.”
At a recent meeting of the Calhoun County Shipping District (the governing body of Calhoun Port), she said she confronted Charles Hausman, the Calhoun Port Manager, about Max Midstream’s legal issues: “If a fisherwoman can know it, how can you not know it? she asked.
She said he wouldn’t answer.
Phone calls and emails to Hausman for this story also went unanswered.
Tierna Unruh-Enos is Editor-in-Chief and Associate Editor of The Paper.