OSLO, Jan 16 (Reuters) - A partner in the Gassled natural gas pipeline network has filed a lawsuit against the Norwegian government aiming to overturn a cut in gas transport tariffs which several partners have said would cost them $6.6 billion in lost earnings over 20 years.
Investors who have poured billions into Norway’s gas network are angry about a decision taken by the former government and backed by the current one to lower the tariffs the network can charge energy companies to use it.
“Njord Gas ... has filed a writ of summons to initiate legal proceedings against the (Norwegian ministry of oil and energy),” the company said in a statement on Thursday.
Njord Gas, which is owned by Swiss bank UBS and France’s Caisse des Depots, said the decision by the government did not have sufficient legal basis and must be ruled invalid.
It said it would also seek damages for the losses incurred but did not disclose how much money it would be asking for.
A group of international investors have put $5.1 billion into Gassled in recent years.
They include the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, German insurer Allianz, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board.
In January 2012, Norway’s previous centre-left government cut tariffs which the Gassled network charges energy firms to transport gas from North Sea platforms to processing plants in Norway and terminals in Britain, Germany, France and Belgium.
It argued the move would encourage exploration by oil companies.
The new centre-right government reaffirmed that decision in December, which disappointed the Gassled partners who had opposed the tariff cut. Just days earlier they had met with the oil and energy minister to try to convince him to reverse the decision.
Oil and Energy Minister Tord Lien declined to comment about Njord Gas’ decision on Thursday, citing the legal challenge.
Three other Gassled partners - Silex Gas, Infragas and Solveig Gas - said in December they would file a lawsuit against the Norwegian government. (Reporting by Gwladys Fouche and Nerijus Adomaitis; editing by Jason Neely)