AMPLA attendees were particularly interested by the
international perspectives from African, Chinese and Canadian
It was great catching up with so many familiar faces at this
year's AMPLA conference in Adelaide. As always, the conference
was a great success, featuring an excellent program of speakers
covering a wide spectrum of issues for energy and resources sector
participants. We run through some of our personal highlights from
the conference below.
The China / Australia / Africa triangle
AMPLA kicked off with some fascinating observations on the
so-called China/Australia/Africa triangle. Former Australian
Ambassador to China, Dr Geoff Raby, talked about the impact of the
Chinese leadership change and China's economic policy shift
from investment to consumption. It was interesting to note how
China is applying lessons it learned the hard way in Australia to
some of its more recent investments in Africa. The point was also
made that changes in Chinese investment strategy are creating
greater demand for Australian know-how. There was high levels
of interest across this topic, including some lively corridor
Greg Cochran's synopses of various uranium, copper and zinc
mining projects (and related infrastructure projects) in African
destinations as disparate as Zambia, Algeria and Namibia, provided
a thought-provoking window on the opportunities (and
hazards) of investing in Africa.
It was also refreshing to observe the growing perception that
Australia and China are not competitors but can mutually benefit
from investments in Africa.
Practical learning: For large-scale African
investments, the importance of stabilisation agreements, project
proponents' support of stabilisation agreements, structuring
investments based on the influence of applicable bilateral
investment treaties and the relevance of international
One of the most popular presentations of the conference was the
excellent overview of Canadian shale gas given by Shawn Denstedt
Q.C. It was fascinating to hear the story of how the Canadians
dealt with the loss of their sole shale gas export market at the
time (the United States) and how they went about developing
replacement markets in Asia and the infrastructure to access such
As part of this, we received insight into the legal structures
the Canadians have adopted to deal with environmental issues
(particularly against the backdrop of dual Federal-provincial
regulations), the need for Aboriginal consultation and overcoming
opposition both to the authorisation of LNG for export and to the
licensing of pipeline construction and operation. It was useful to
be able to contrast this with our own regulatory frameworks.
Day 2's Energy Law Stream included an illuminating session
on floating LNG, with a very useful explanation of the underlying
technologies and supporting infrastructure. Amidst recent
criticisms that FLNG projects do not create as many jobs or wider
business opportunities as onshore projects, it was interesting to
hear about some of the longer-term economic and competitive skills
benefits, as well as anticipated project structuring options,
financing options and some of the principal commercial and legal
challenges facing Australian projects.
Other sessions of note
In the session on the AMPLA Model Mineral Sales Agreement, our
own Brett Cohen helped talk us through the model agreement and its
use in non-complex upstream wholesale non-precious minerals sales
and supply arrangements.
Practical learning: In the international
mineral sales environment, it remains important to appreciate the
implication of the Vienna Sales Convention and how to contractually
regulate the Convention's effects.
The "recent developments" session at AMPLA is always
of interest and usually serves to highlight some front-of-mind
regulatory issues. This year was no different. Judging from
questions from the floor, the most interesting aspects seem to be
the underlying changes in government policy directions which the
speakers, including our own Dipesh Jasmat, discussed.
Clayton Utz partner Dan Howard also presented on a timely topic
as part of the energy regulation stream "Sticker shock:
Managing your electricity costs at a time of regulatory
We congratulate AMPLA on yet another excellent national
conference (which we were again proud to sponsor).
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