Australia is long overdue for statutory intervention in private international law (PIL), so the recent ‘Discussion Paper 1’ (DP) from the federal Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) is very welcome. From a background in comparative and transnational business law, I strongly support legislative reform, particularly for cross-border consumer transactions and/or in relation to international arbitration. This can now draw on a wealth of experience at an international level and from our major (now mostly Asia-Pacific) trading partners. Such reforms will add tangible evidence of the Government’s recently declared commitment to ‘Australia in the Asian Century‘.
Guest blog by Paul Davis (Baker & McKenzie, Sydney/Tokyo) – “IMPORT OF US SHALE GAS INTO ASIA: THE EFFECT ON EXISTING LONG-TERM CONTRACTS FOR THE SALE OF LNG”
[A footnoted version of the following note is forthcoming on the Baker & McKenzie website. The firm supports ANJeL’s ‘Team Australia’ law students in the INC negotiation and arbitration moot competition in Tokyo (held over 1-2 December this year), and Mr Davis is a guest lecturer in Sydney Law School’s LLM courses in “Global Energy and Resources Law” and “Law and Investment in Asia”. The law and practice of long-term contracts is not only of immediate practical significance for bilateral and regional trade and investment (including Australia-Japan FTA negotiations), but also more broadly for contract law reform projects now underway in both Australia and Japan.]
Current Top Concern to Asia’s LNG Buyers and Sellers
The main issue exercising the minds of Asia’s LNG sellers and buyers is what will happen to their current LNG sale and purchase agreements (SPAs), which are priced based upon the Japan Crude Cocktail (JCC), as cheaper (Henry Hub linked) shale gas imports start to flow into the region from North America.
Buyers will be under pressure to “close the gap.” At the same time the sellers are concerned to maintain the prices based on which they made the decision to develop their LNG projects.
SPAs differ, depending upon the LNG SPA model preferred by the seller – in effect the operator of the project. However most SPAs contain two provisions of relevance to the current issue.