Energy

Bell Gully has the leading energy practice in New Zealand.

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​​​We have worked on some of the most significant projects, transactions and litigation in New Zealand’s energy sector in recent years.

Bell Gully’s energy practice comprises lawyers with specialist expertise in corporate, litigation, regulatory and environmental matters. This group of lawyers acts for a number of major industry participants in the oil and gas and mining sectors, for geothermal developers and operators and for electricity generators, retailers and lines companies. Our team has a detailed knowledge and understanding of the sector and the legal issues that are relevant to it.

Our energy lawyers have market-leading skills, expertise and experience, including:

  • specialist resources sector expertise, transactional and advisory experience based on extensive work in the sector over many years,

  • a market-leading corporate team undertaking corporate and commercial transactions, as well as mergers and acquisitions, for a wide range of industry participants, and providing market-leading advice on energy projects and contracts, 

  • particular expertise and experience in regulatory work, investigations and prosecutions in the energy sector including high hazard industries,

  • a property team with full environmental, leasing, land purchase and sale and hazardous substances capability, and

  • a litigation team with extensive experience in energy sector disputes, and a proven ability to win complex and high profile cases.

Our energy team is consistently recognised in the top tier leading legal directories.

Recognition for our energy expertise

"Bell Gully is strong in oil and gas."
IFLR1000 2016 - Tier 1

"They rate equally alongside other top-tier international firms."​

"The best mining and minerals firm we have used.​"
Chambers Asia Pacific 2017 - Tier 1​

"We get good advice, a depth of experience and knowledge on the areas we need. They know what works and what doesn't."

"It is a highly regarded and well-known team." 

"A top-quality and trusted New Zealand practice."
Chambers Asia Pacific 2016 - Tier 1

New entrant energy and petroleum (E&P) companies
Acted for a majority of new entrant E&P companies establishing operations in New Zealand. This has either been by way of participation in the annual Blocks Offer rounds or through mergers or acquisitions. This has required us to advise on regulatory requirements, Block Offer documentation, the overseas investment regime and, where required, merger and acquisitions processes and transaction documentation.

Acquisition of Vector's gas transmission and non-Auckland gas distribution buisnesses
Advised First State Investments on its agreement to acquire Vector Gas for NZ$952.5 million. This deal won the M&A Deal of the Year at the 2016 New Zealand Law Awards.​

Acquisition of the Maui natural gas pipeline
Advised First State Investments (FSI) on the acquisition of the Maui natural gas ​​pipeline by two FSI funds, the Global Diversified Infrastructure Fund and the Colonial First State Active Infrastructure Income Fund, for NZ$335 million.

Electricity sector generation expansion programmes
Advised Contact Energy on various projects comprising its electricity generation expansion programme, including its geothermal developments and its NZ$250 million gas fired peaker project in Taranaki.

Mixed ownership model transactions
Advised the New Zealand Government on the proposed sale of 49% of the shares – by way of initial public offering – in each of Mighty River Power and Meridian Energy. These were key transactions forming part of the Government’s partial sell-down of state-owned energy companies.

Acquisition of exploration and production assets
Acted for industry participants including TAG, Anadarko, Woodside and Mitsui on the acquisition or sale of New Zealand petroleum permits, participating interests in such permits or producing fields.

Central North Island geothermal projects
Advised Tauhara North No.2 Trust as the owner of the Rotokawa geothermal field and development right holder of the Nga Tamariki geothermal fie​ld in the Central North Island in the commercialisation of these fields, including the joint venture for the construction of the 140MW Nga Awa Purua geothermal power station. The development is regarded as a role model project for Māori​ land owners of geothermal resources and aims to develop the resource while protecting the Trust's guardianship of the land and resource. It was named Project of the Year at the prestigious 2010 Deloitte Energy Excellence Awards.

Advised on the project financing of Tauhara North No.2 Trust's 35% investment in the 140MW Nga Awa Purua geothermal power station.

International oil and gas farm-out transactions
Acted for major E&P companies on several significant international and local farm-outs (and associated joint venture operating arrangements) that have occurred in New Zealand, including:

  • the farm-out of deepwater permits in the Canterbury Basin to a large US independent exploration company,

  • the subsequent farm-in by the same US exploration company into acreage offshore Taranaki, and

  • the staged farm-out of East Coast shale permits by TAG Oil to Apache Corporation.

Wind farm consenting
Acting for Meridian Energy in obtaining, maintaining, updating and administering resource consents for its wind farm projects throughout New Zealand. Meridian is New Zealand’s largest electricity generator and has the most installed wind capacity of any generator.

Power station acquisitions
Acted for Contact Energy on its purchase of the Whirinaki power station, including fuel supply and transportation arrangements for the power station.

Energy advice to major industrial users
Advising leading industrial companies in New Zealand on their energy-related work.

Cheung Kong Infrastructure's (CKI) purchase of Vector's Wellington assets
Acted as New Zealand counsel to CKI, the largest listed infrastructure company in Hong Kong, on its successful bid to purchase Vector's Wellington electricity network.

Gas transmission and interconnection
Acted for generator and retailers and interconnected parties on many matters relating to the Vector Transmission Code – the code which regulates the transmission of gas on Vector’s gas transmission system – and associated pipeline interconnection arrangements.

Swift Energy New Zealand assets
Acted for Origin Energy on its purchase of most of the upstream oil and gas assets of Swift Energy. This included a number of international and producing local Taranaki interests, including its production stations, the TAW gas pipeline, the Rimu gas pipeline and associated field-specific pipeline and flowline networks.

Sale of AGL’s New Zealand energy assets acquisition
Advised AGL Energy on the sale of its entire asset portfolio in New Zealand. This involved separate asset and share transactions with different counterparties undertaken over a two year period in order to compete the divestiture.

Contact Energy and Origin's proposed merger
Advised Contact Energy, New Zealand's second largest listed company, on its proposed A$8 billion merger with Origin Energy to create Australasia's largest integrated energy company. The merger was structured to occur by way of an innovative dual-listed company (DLC) structure run by a common board and unified senior management team. The merger ultimately did not proceed.

Power station construction
Advised the sponsors on the construction of the Taranaki Combined Cycle (TCC) power station, a 375 MW gas fired combined cycle power station located near Stratford in Taranaki. This included advising on the partnership arrangements, fuel arrangements, offtake arrangements, operations and maintenance arrangements and the project financing of the power station.

Kupe Gas Field development
Acting as New Zealand counsel to Origin Energy Resources (Kupe), operator of the Kupe oil and gas development. We advise on many aspects of the development, including infrastructure, construction and operational contracts.

Gas sale and purchase transactions
Advised on a number of gas marketing and sales arrangements, including Maui and Pohokura gas and more recently on gas sales from newly developed local​ fields.

Petrol retail sector transactions
Acted for the New Zealand Superannuation Fund on the joint venture acquisition of Shell New Zealand’s refining and downstream business.

Coal mining and development
Acted for Bathurst Resources on the development, consenting and operation of its West Coast and Southland mines, and also on the acquisition of three further tenements on the West Coast.  We also acted for the receivers of Pike River Coal on the sale of the Pike River mine to Solid Energy.

Coal seam gas development
Advised an ASX-listed coal seam gas exploration company on its South Island activities, including its staged development of its coal seam gas permits and the subsequent withdrawal from the permits by the relevant joint venture partner.

Underground gas storage
Advised Contact Energy on its landmark underground gas storage facility in the depleted Ahuroa reservoir. This involved regulatory, contractual, project development and consenting aspects. The project was a significant “first” in New Zealand, and required a number of novel legal issues to be resolved to enable the project to proceed.

Hawke's Bay wind farm development
Acted for joint venture participants in the development of a 60-80 turbine wind farm to produce 180-220MW of electricity from its site on the Maungaharuru Range, north of Napier.

Gas sector field re-determinations
Advised the joint venture owners of the Maui Gas Field on all matters concerning the redetermination of gas reserves in the filed including High Court and Court of Appeal challenges to that determination.

Energy sector judicial review proceedings
Advised Origin Energy on a judicial review application in the High Court and Court of Appeal. A competitor challenged the award of a mining permit to Origin Energy.

ABB's electronics industry acquisition
Advised international power and automation technology group ABB on its acquisition of the business assets of New Zealand company Vectek Electronics. Vectek has developed technology to improve the quality of the power supply in industrial installations and will operate as part of ABB's Automation Products division.

Contact Energy's acquisition of Rockgas
Advised Contact Energy on its acquisition of the Rockgas LPG business, providing Contact Energy with a unique platform to supply not only electricity and reticulated natural gas, but LPG for those homes and businesses which are not connected to gas networks or wish to use LPG to manage peak energy demands.

Alinta Infrastructure Holdings initial public offering
Acted as New Zealand legal counsel to Alinta on the A$900 million initial public offering of Alinta Infrastructure Holdings.

Siemens (NZ) smart metering joint venture
Advised Siemens (NZ) on the establishment of a joint venture with Vector, New Zealand's leading owner and manager of network infrastructures, to deliver advanced smart metering technology and operational services to customers throughout New Zealand.

Judicial review proceedings
Acted for Contact Energy in a successful judicial review challenging the Electricity Commission's pricing methodology for the North and South Island link of the electricity transmission grid. This was a joint challenge with Meridian Energy and was the first court challenge to the Electricity Commission.

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  • David Coull

    Partner Wellington
  • Chris Gordon

    Partner & Chairman Wellington
  • Garry Downs

    Partner Auckland
  • Andrew Beatson

    Partner Wellington