A court in Oslo has ruled in favour of Norway in a lawsuit involving a group of international investors.
They had argued that the country’s decision to cut natural gas pipeline tariffs would have cost them more than $1billion in lost earnings by 2028.
The four firms owned by funds including Allianz, UBS, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board alleged that Norway had illegally cut fees on the 8,000lm Gassled gas pipeline network.
The four firms have said they would consider whether to appeal the decision.
The stakes were bought in 2010 and 2011 from ExxonMobil , Total, Statoil and Royal Dutch Shell .
The Oil and Energy Ministry had not provided full information to the buyers and sellers regarding how the tariffs could be changed, the court said, but added that the ministry’s officials themselves at the time had been unaware of how easily this could be done.
The ruling said: “The ministry is to blame for this, but following an overall assessment the court concludes that the actions of the ministry’s leadership can’t be regarded as qualifying negligence – which according to the law is a condition for triggering liability.”
The oil and energy ministry said in a statement that it was “satisfied” with the verdict.
The firms, many of which bought into Gassled in 2011 through a 17 billion crown deal for state-controlled Statoil’s 24 percent stake, argued the tariff cut benefits gas producers, the very firms that sold them their stakes.
The state refuted the claim, arguing that returns were above agreed levels and fees were so high that they discouraged new offshore investment.
It said most profit from oil and gas should be derived from the fields, not from the infrastructure, and that pipeline tariffs needed to be cut from October 2016 because the predicted returns had been achieved.