New Zealand-based Minter Ellison Rudd Watts has acted for Shell in establishing an open access regime for the Maui gas pipeline, which began transporting gas on 1 October 2005.
A Shell (83.75 per cent), OMV (10 per cent) and Todd (6.25 per cent) joint venture owns the pipeline, which was built in the early 1980s to transport Maui gas from Taranaki to Rotowaro under the Maui Gas contract.
Wellington partner Nick Hodson, who lead the Minters team, said the deal included a number of “complicating factors” such as ensuring the regime meshed with the pre-existing contracts of the Maui gas contract partners.
The new open access regime will allow gas producers and customers to use the pipeline for transporting their gas on standard terms and conditions set out in an operating code.
Because the JV sells the gas to the Crown, which then on-sells it to three gas wholesalers — NGC, Contact Energy and Methanex — the team had to take into account the situation of seven parties: the three JV partners, the three wholesalers and “in the middle”, the Crown.
The operating code is the culmination of more than four years’ work by the pipeline owners and involved obtaining the approval of a range of parties within the energy sector, including NGC New Zealand, petrochemicals manufacturers, electricity generators, gas producers and the Ministry of Economic Development.
The regime had to be framed to comply with the Government Policy Statement in relation to the gas industry and acknowledge existing transport arrangements on NGC pipelines.
Work on the deal started in 2001 with completion due in 2005, Hodson said. However, because initially there seemed to be no urgency, the project did not get the attention of several key organisations. “This year, however, things came to a head,” Hodson explained, “and an independent facilitator was brought in to get people round the table in a room [to conclude matters].”
Other key members of the Minters team included Paul Soley (corporate) and Les Taylor (litigation). Additional firms with a significant role in the deal included Simpson Grierson (Elisabeth Welson advised OMV), Russell McVeagh (David Clarke advised Todd), and Chapman Tripp (Jane Parker advised NGC).