This was the first in a three-part series of webinars addressing gas price drivers and adjustment mechanisms in different regions of the world. The second and third webinars, to be announced shortly, will address gas price drivers and adjustment mechanisms in Europe and the Americas.
Energy markets in Asia, and gas markets in particular, have undergone a profound transformation in the last decade. Overall demand for energy – leaving aside the effects of the COVID crisis – has risen, but so has awareness of the need for carbon emission reductions. This has had a mixed effect on demand for gas. Some view gas-fired power as a cleaner transitional alternative to coal or oil. On the other hand, there has been pressure to replace gas-fired power by renewables and to develop cleaner methods of heat production in the domestic and industrial context.
On the supply side, LNG has always played a significant role in Asian energy markets and the increasing availability of LNG from around the world, including the US, continues to encourage this. At the same time, Russia’s increasing estrangement from its traditional European customer countries has powered the growing provision of piped gas to Asian markets, including China.
These developments have made evaluating and predicting gas values – already a daunting challenge – an even more complex exercise. Long-term gas and LNG supply agreements frequently contain price reopener and review clauses intended to address unpredictable developments, but the applicability of these to specific situations is often controversial. The two speakers at this webinar addressed the main factors driving gas price movements in the Asian context, the contractual and other adjustment mechanisms available to respond to these and how these mechanisms are used in practice.
Jinsok Sung is an energy market researcher and economist. He is a member of the Expert Council and international energy market research group at Russian Gas Society. He has presented his Ph.D. dissertation on LNG pricing mechanisms and the Asia-Pacific LNG market at Gubkin Russian state university of oil and gas. He is the author of a number of publications and frequently gives seminars on energy market issues with a focus on the Asia Pacific market. He was a Visiting Researcher at the Bank of Finland Institute for Emerging Economies (BOFIT).
Jinsok’s presentation will analyse how LNG markets are evolving in the Asia Pacific region and its changing market environments the LNG price review process. LNG is an integral part of the energy market in Asia and plays a pivotal role in the development of the gas market in the region. Most natural gas is traded internationally in the form of LNG and LNG consumption is growing rapidly. LNG is an increasingly popular choice for consumers as a substitute for coal in the power sector, oil products as a bunkering fuel and biomass at households. At the same time, it is faces competition from renewables as a result of the accelerating energy transition. There have been relatively few gas price review cases in Asia, given the cost-plus approach to consumer pricing and the greater importance attached to supply security than to price competitivity. As gas markets are being liberalised in Asia and buyers face domestic competition, importers are trying to avoid loss. In the past, there have been few sellers and buyers in the global LNG market, but this is changing and the LNG business is becoming increasingly competitive. These factors are all influencing the attitudes of market participants to price reviews.
Djakhongir Saidov is Professor of Commercial Law at The Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London, UK. Professor Saidov specialises in international commercial law. At King’s College London, he teaches a number of specialist commercial law courses on the LLB and LLM programmes and is the Director of Online LLM programmes. He has published extensively on the law of international sale of goods, remedies for breach of contract, the law of oil and gas and the law on expert determination. Professor Saidov is a Consultant to Helmsman LLC, Advocates & Solicitors, Singapore, a Visiting Professor and an Academic Fellow at the Centre for Maritime Law at the National University of Singapore and the Editor of the English Sale of Goods Law section in the LMCLQ International Maritime and Commercial Law Yearbook. He was a Rapporteur to the CISG Advisory Council (CISG-AC) on its Opinion No. 19, ‘Standards and Conformity of the Goods under Article 35 CISG’.
Djakhongir’s presentation will explore price reviews clauses in long-term gas and LNG sale and purchase agreements from a legal perspective. It will start by explaining the purpose and types of price review clauses and identifying some general characteristics that distinguish price review clauses in contracts used in the Asian-Pacific region from those used in European gas and LNG contracts. After discussing the different approaches that can be taken to the drafting of price review clauses, the presentation will examine some central legal themes and problems that can arise in the context of these clauses. Drawing on examples from decided cases, the presentation will analyse various legal issues including trigger conditions and adjustment criteria. The presentation will conclude by analysing the effectiveness of third-party expert determination as a price review mechanism. Expert determination has occasionally been used to avoid or resolve price review disputes but, with much of the focus being on arbitration, there has been little analysis and discussion of it.
The event was chaired by Mr 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.
For any queries regarding the content of the webinar, please email Graham.Coop@volterrafietta.com.