The Western Australia Chinese Petroleum Association (WACPA) in association with Moore Stephens held a successful seminar in Perth’s CBD on oil and gas investment focused on the current climate in the Australian sector as well as investment considerations and strategies for foreign investors.
The seminar featured keynote speaker Peter Gray, Moore Stephens Partner - Small and Mid-cap Merger and Acquisition trends. Peter discussed recent softening in transaction activity in the sector, the causes and implications as well as investment aversion to exploration projects in the prevailing low-price environment. In a conservative market, he pointed towards the relative attractiveness of conventional assets, especially with a reliable production profile. Observations concerning the smaller dollar value of transactions were provided, noting relatively high activity in the sub $10m band with no deals in excess of $1 billion in the last year in Australia’s oil and gas sector.
Tony Chong, Squire Patton Boggs Managing Partner, provided a valuable update on the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) and current approaches which apply to the oil and gas industry. An important consideration for many Chinese companies wishing to invest in the sector is to assess the level of PRC governmental involvement in the firm against FIRB notification or approval requirements. Furthermore a key distinction was drawn between land and non-land investment, with much petroleum and mining exploration activity falling outside this definition and thus not subject to certain FIRB applications.
Both speakers attracted a lively Q&A discussion session, branching into related topics such as LNG pricing, the political atmosphere for unconventional gas, looming backfill shortages for major production infrastructure as well as the rise and fall in investment fashionability of certain hydrocarbon basins around Australia.
The forum was attended by a diverse range of companies including engineering, universities, petroleum, legal, financial and technical consulting firms.