December 22, 2017 / 4:25 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 2-Norway's Supreme Court to hear Gassled pipeline case

(Adds Njord Gas comment)

OSLO, Dec 22 (Reuters) - The Norwegian Supreme Court will hear an appeal from the owners of Gassled, Norway’s gas infrastructure network, in a case involving the government’s decision to cut pipeline tariffs, Njord Gas Infrastructure said on Friday.

In June 2017, a Norwegian appeals court ruled against the owners in a lawsuit that argued the cut in tariffs was unlawful and would cost them a combined 15 billion Norwegian crowns ($1.80 billion) in lost earnings through 2028.

The case against the government is pursued by four investment companies, Njord Gas Infrastructure, Solveig Gas, Silex Gas and Infragas, which hold a combined 43.9 percent in Gassled.

“We are absolutely delighted to go on Christmas break with this news,” Njord Gas Chief Executive Birte Norheim told Reuters.

“It’s an acknowledgement that the case has merit,” she said.

While the Supreme Court has not yet set a date for the case, Njord believes it could be resolved by mid-to-late 2018, Norheim added.

The four firms were originally owned by Allianz, UBS, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and France’s Caisse des Depots.

In October 2017, UBS and Caisse des Depots announced they were selling their stakes, but will still remain in line for any potential proceeds from a decision in favour of the Gassled partners, and will help pay the cost of litigation.

Some of the companies involved have said Norway’s unexpected decision to lower gas transportation tariffs would hurt the image of Norway as a country to invest in.

The government cut tariffs shortly after the four investors bought their stakes in Gassled in 2011 and 2012 from ExxonMobil , Total, Statoil and Royal Dutch Shell for a total of 32 billion crowns.

A spokesman for Norway’s Ministry of Petroleum and Energy declined to comment when contacted by Reuters. The Supreme Court was not immediately available for comment. ($1 = 8.3287 Norwegian crowns) (Reporting by Terje Solsvik and Lefteris Karagiannopoulos, editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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