Commerce Commission clears OMV AG to buy Royal Dutch Shell's NZ assets

Commerce Commission clears OMV AG to buy Royal Dutch Shell's NZ assets. Photo: Lynn Grieveson

The Commerce Commission has given Austrian oil and gas producer OMV AG clearance to buy Royal Dutch Shell’s gas and liquids assets in New Zealand.

In March, Royal Dutch Shell announced plans to sell its remaining New Zealand business to OMV AG for US$578 million, as part of a US$30 billion international divestment programme. It had already sold its distribution and petrol station assets in 2010 to the company that today is Z Energy, and its 60-year-old Kapuni onshore oil and gas field to its joint venture partner in the field, locally owned Todd Energy.

The assets being sold to OMV AG include its 83.75 percent stake in the Maui and 48 percent in Pohokura gas field joint ventures with Todd Energy and the associated production, pipeline and tank assets.

The commission's deputy chair Sue Begg said the regulator was satisfied the acquisition would not substantially lessen competition in any of the markets it assessed.

“While OMV will be the largest producer and supplier of natural gas in the immediate future, its overall market share is likely to decline in the longer term as the Maui field is nearing the end of its life and Pohokura is easing off its peak," said Begg.

She said that both Todd Energy and Greymouth Petroleum have increased their shares of the market over the past five years, a trend that is likely to continue in the future. "The constraint from these and other players, combined with the strong buyer power of large gas users, means we are satisfied the acquisition would not substantially lessen competition," added Begg.

The commission has also concluded the acquisition would not affect competition in the supply of LPG or foreclose access to onshore infrastructure assets (pipelines and tanks).

OMV AG already holds 10 percent of Maui and 26 percent of Pohokura. Most of its production assets are in Romania, but it has interests throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa.