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Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com: Shell NZ to fight Maui judgment

06 July 2006 

Shell New Zealand will appeal against a High Court judgment that effectively prevents it from taking over as operator at the Maui gasfield.

Two weeks ago the High Court upheld an application by Todd Energy for a permanent injunction stopping the directors of joint company Shell Todd Oil Services – half Shell and half Todd appointees with Shell having a casting vote – voting to resign as operator of the Maui field and replace it with a Shell company.

STOS is a 50-year-old company with about 400 staff.

Shell won a court case several months ago allowing it to remove STOS as the operator of the new Pohokura gasfield. Todd fought that as well.

The High Court judgment revealed that Shell set out two years ago under “Project Zinfandel” to remove STOS as operator of the fields in which it was the biggest stakeholder.

Shell spokeswoman Jackie Maitland said the company would challenge the High Court judgment.

Shell disagreed with some aspects of the judgment, in particular the court’s interpretation of the Shell-Todd Heads of Agreement 2002 updating the 1955 joint venture agreement between them.

Shell also denied the comments in the judgment that it misled the court.

Comments in the judgment suggesting Shell might sell its New Zealand assets have unsettled staff.

The judgment said Shell feared its New Zealand oil and gas assets might shed $US100 million of value if Shell did not take the operator’s role at its majority-held fields. Shell holds 83.75 per cent of the Maui field

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