One feature of the Esso/Hess/CNOOC 2016 Agreement – as indeed the 1999 Esso Agreement signed by President Janet Jagan – which has received little public attention is Gas which is addressed in Article 12 of both Agreements. In both Agreements “gas” or “natural gas” are defined in Article 1 – Definition. Additionally, both agreements have definitions of “associated gas” which is all Natural Gas produced from any Reservoir producing predominantly Crude Oil; and “non-associated gas which is defined as natural gas or gas other than associated gas.
Gas is considered a quite distinct product since the non-liquid physical character of natural gas at ordinary temperatures and pressure imposes economic and practical limits on its use. Gas generally is transported by pipeline while oil can be transported by pipeline, road or rail. In the offshore environment, underwater pipelines can transport either oil or gas but ships can only economically transport liquids. Of course, with development and technology, it is now possible for natural gas to be liquidified under particular temperature and pressure into liquefied natural gas (LNG) and transported by ships.
According to William Hughes in the 2016 publication Fundamentals of International Oil and Gas Law, the LNG industry has been characterised by high capital costs, even exceeding the usual high costs of the oil and gas industry generally, due to costs of constructing specialised facilities to liquefy and load the gas, constructing specialised tankers to transport the LNG, and constructing facilities to receive and regasify LNG at the port of destination. Coupled with this is the comparatively thin market for the product…..