Allianz, Abu Dhabi Fund’s Solveig Sues Norway in Tariff Dispute

Three more owners of Norway’s gas-pipeline network, including a company backed by Allianz SE and Abu Dhabi’s wealth fund, sued the government over tariff cuts they say will reduce income by about $6.5 billion.

Solveig Gas Norway AS, which is also backed by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, filed a writ of summons to start legal proceedings against the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, the company said in a statement today. Infragas Norge AS and Silex Gas Norway AS, which also own stakes in the pipeline network, are part of the lawsuit, Infragas Chief Executive Officer Knud Noerve said by phone.

“We’re looking forward to getting this tried in the legal system,” Solveig CEO Trygve Pedersen said by phone. The tariff cuts are “without legal foundation and should be declared invalid with any resulting loss compensated,” Solveig said in the statement.

Norway’s Conservative-led government last month maintained the former administration’s decision to reduce tariffs for transportation of new gas volumes through the Gassled pipeline network by as much as 90 percent. The owners, which also include Njord Gas Infrastructure AS, have said the cuts will reduce income by about 40 billion kroner ($6.5 billion).

Njord, owned by UBS International Infrastructure Fund and CDC Infrastructure SA, filed a writ of summons with an Oslo court on Jan. 16, while the three others started proceedings in Stavanger, according to Infragas CEO Noerve.

Blindsided Investors

“We are aware that these companies have filed a writ of summons,” ministry spokesman Haakon Smith-Isaksen by phone from Oslo today. “We have no comment beyond that at the moment.”

Solveig Gas is the second-largest shareholder in Gassled after Petoro AS, with a 24.8 percent stake. Njord owns about 8 percent, Silex 6.1 percent and Infragas 5 percent.

The tariff cuts, which will come into force in October 2016, are designed to make more gas discoveries profitable and boost exploration offshore Norway, Norway’s current and previous governments have said.

The changes blindsided investors, who had spent 32 billion kroner buying a 44 percent stake in Gassled from oil companies including Statoil ASA and Royal Dutch Shell Plc. The Gassled owners have said the cuts damage Norway’s reputation as a stable and predictable place to invest, and that they won’t buy out oil companies investing in the country’s next gas pipeline in the Norwegian Sea, Polarled.

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