Agnieszka Ason

Visiting Research Fellow

Agnieszka specialises in energy law and international dispute resolution. She has particular expertise in gas price reviews. Having  started her career at the Berlin Institute for Energy law and worked on major energy deals and disputes in European and Asian markets for a decade, Agnieszka currently lectures in international commercial and investment arbitration and energy law and trading at the London School of Economics, Technische Universität Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin and Queen Mary University of London. Agnieszka has published high-impact research quoted by judges and arbitrators (including on challenges to arbitral awards in national courts) and regularly offers guest lectures and presents at conferences. She holds law degrees from Freie Universität Berlin and the University of Warsaw. Agnieszka is fluent in Polish (native), English, Russian and German.

Contact

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                    [post_content] => The paper discusses scenarios for Asian long-term LNG contracts (LNG SPAs), taking into account the COVID-19 crisis, which, as this paper argues, will have a significant impact on the evolution of contractual arrangements in the industry. Recent market events have delivered multiple incentives for price reviews and exposed three key needs for changes to Asian LNG SPAs: (1) to abandon oil-linked pricing, (2) to increase operational flexibility, and (3) to re-examine contract adjustment mechanisms. Highlighting that the anticipated European-style wave of price review arbitrations is unlikely to materialize in Asia in the near term, the paper concludes that a transition driven by comprehensive contract reviews executed by the parties would be an optimal scenario for Asian LNG SPAs in the 2020s.
                    [post_title] => Scenarios for Asian long-term LNG contracts before and after COVID-19
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                    [post_content] => In early February, as the Chinese government imposed quarantines and travel restrictions on large parts of the country to stem the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), China’s largest LNG importer, CNOOC invoked force majeure on cargoes. On 5 March 2020, PetroChina reportedly issued force majeure notices to some of its suppliers of piped gas and LNG. While the notices were prompted by logistical constraints (related to the quarantines and now plummeting demand), there is a growing concern in the industry that these notices are an attempt to renegotiate contracts.

This comment discusses force majeure clauses in LNG sale and purchase agreements (SPAs), the consequences of buyers’ force majeure and explores the potential outcomes as well as the impact of force majeure declarations on the LNG industry. It argues that even though Chinese buyers have a number of reasons to seek contractual changes, they are unlikely to blatantly breach contracts in a way that would put supply security at risk. Such force majeure claims may, however, start a conversation about future revisions to contractual terms, even though sellers would at best agree to add more flexibility clauses and will resist outright price revisions. Over the coming years, the pressure from the Chinese government and buyers to move to more flexible prices will undoubtedly increase, but given uncertainty around domestic price reforms, any concrete steps toward renegotiation will likely wait until China has established some form of domestic pricing reference.

 

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                    [post_content] => Until recently, Asian LNG contract issues, including price adjustments, have been resolved by negotiation, with few formal price review clauses, and certainly no price review arbitrations. These two, largely European phenomena to date, are only now spilling over into Asia. As this paper argues, the role of LNG price reviews and arbitrations in the Pacific Basin is likely to increase in the coming years. Asian LNG contracts finalized in the 2000s typically contain price review clauses. Contracts concluded in the recent years, which accepted a close link to oil prices in particular, are naturally exposed to price reviews. Arbitration, the preferred method of dispute resolution in European gas pricing disputes, is likely to become an important, novel, addition to the Asian LNG price review landscape. Offered with a robust, time-tested, and improved, dispute resolution mechanism, Asian LNG stakeholders they can tailor arbitration to their needs and use it primarily to hedge against the risks of protracted price review discussions.
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Latest Publications by Agnieszka Ason