News

Latest developments in gas price revision disputes around the world

On 23 May, Volterra Fietta hosted the virtual seminar on “Latest developments in gas contract disputes”.

As everyone knows, energy markets are passing through a period of exceptional turmoil.  This is particularly so in the European context, but no part of the world is exempt.

Volterra Fietta has been closely following the significant developments in international energy markets for a number of years.  In June 2021, we hosted two highly successful seminars on gas price drivers and adjustment mechanisms in Europe and Asia respectively.  Further information about these and other relevant seminars may be found here:

https://www.volterrafietta.com/category/news/

Given the breakneck speed at which world events are evolving, and international energy markets with them, the time is right for a further seminar in this series.  Speakers from our earlier seminars will review recent developments and new viewpoints will be presented.

Natural gas markets are increasingly subject to major stresses of pricing and availability, with disputes, potentially ending in litigation or arbitration, highly likely.  This seminar will not address the causes, justifications or potential developments for the underlying geopolitical situation but will instead focus on its potential effect on gas contracts and potential gas contract disputes.  The speakers at this seminar bring a variety of viewpoints and individual insights to this highly complex legal and geopolitical situation.

The speakers for this seminar were:

Andrej Pustisek has more than 30 years’ experience in the natural gas industry.  Mr Pustisek will discuss among other things the potential effects of the EU full or partial embargo on Russian gas, and the specific question of whether force majeure could be claimed to suspend or terminate take or pay obligations.

Andrej currently advises international natural gas and energy companies, teaches energy economics at the University of Applied Science, Stuttgart and at the University of Karlsruhe and conducts international courses on natural gas, inter alia on transportation, storage, and commodity trading and pricing.  In the 1990s, he worked for Wintershall AG and WINGAS, Kassel, Germany in various positions, including natural gas purchasing, supply logistics and portfolio optimization.  With E.ON Ruhrgas from 2002, he was Senior/Executive Vice President International Natural Gas Sales and later for Portfolio Management.  He has been involved as expert in various arbitration proceedings relating to natural gas delivery, transportation and storage contracts in Europe and is member of Monitoring Trustee Teams working for the EU – DG Competition.  He is the author of several publications, including the textbook ‘Natural Gas – A Commercial Perspective’ published in 2017 together with M. Karasz.

Giacomo Luciani (Scientific Advisor – Master in International Energy).  Mr Luciani Giacomo will discuss the potential for price renegotiation requests, notably on the basis of the extreme dislocation of hub prices in Europe, which arguably reflect expectations and speculation more than effective demand/supply conditions, and may drive some companies out of the market on the basis of their inability to pass the high prices on to consumers.

Giacomo Luciani created and is responsible for the scientific content of the Master in International Energy at the Paris School of International Affairs of Sciences Po.  He also teaches at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva and in the Master of Science in International Trading at the University of Geneva.  In 2010-13, he was Global Scholar at Princeton University.  His MOOC “Politics and Economics of International Energy” is available on Coursera (https://www.coursera.org/learn/global-energy?).  He was the Vice President for International Group Projects of Eni (1990-2000), and has consulted for major international energy companies and governments of oil exporting countries.  His work has focused on the political economy of MENA and global energy issues.  His latest co-edited book, “When Can Oil Economies Be Deemed Sustainable?” (Palgrave, 2020; available in open access at https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-981-15-5728-6 ), discusses the meaning and challenges of sustainability for the GCC economies.  In 2021 the Handbook of International Energy Economics, which he co-edited with Manfred Hafner, will be published by Palgrave Macmillan.

Professor Manfred Hafner (Professor of economics and (geo)-politics of international energy at the SciencesPo Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) and at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies). Professor Hafner also runs his own energy strategy consultancy with which he has over the last decades extensively advised governments, international organizations and the energy industry.  Professor Hafner will discuss the credibility of the intended increase of EU LNG imports (50 BCMY in REPower EC communication) and the availability of interconnections for the reorganisation of gas flows within Europe.

The seminar will be moderated by Graham Coop (Partner at Volterra Fietta).  Mr Coop is qualified as a barrister and solicitor in New Zealand and as a solicitor with higher rights of audience (Civil) in England and Wales, and his thirty-year legal career includes seven years as General Counsel to the Energy Charter Secretariat between 2004 and 2011.  Mr Coop advises and represents companies, governments and international organisations on international dispute resolution and public international law, with a particular focus on the energy, natural resources and infrastructure and banking sectors.  He has appeared as counsel, advocate and expert before a wide range of international courts and tribunals, including the International Court of Justice, ICSID, the PCA and the ICC.  The cases in which he has been involved as counsel include numerous price review disputes and other price-related disputes in the energy sector.  He has also advised and represented parties to long-term energy sale agreements wishing to negotiate price adjustments in the absence of contractual price review clauses.  He is on the UK Attorney General’s list of public international law practitioners.