28 June 2022
Competitors Shell and TotalEnergies are launching a sustainability initiative to build, among other things, a pipeline to transport CO₂ and store the CO₂ in empty gas fields under the North Sea.
Capturing and storing CO₂ will contribute to reducing CO₂ emissions by companies based in the Netherlands, which currently have few alternatives. To get the project going, Shell and TotalEnergies will have to jointly offer CO₂ storage and set the price for it in view of putting the first 20% of the pipeline's capacity into operation.
Collaboration between two competitors can have a negative impact on price, quality and innovation. Because collaborating is necessary to get this initiative off the ground and achieve the climate benefits, it does not matter that competition between Shell and TotalEnergies is restricted to a small extent. The benefits for the customers of the two companies and for society as a whole, outweigh the negative effects of that restriction.
For this reason, the parties have asked the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) for an informal opinion about whether their collaboration is consistent with the competition rules which provide an exception to the prohibition to restrict competition if, in short, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
Houthoff advised and represented the two parties before the ACM. The team included Gerrit Oosterhuis and Victorine Dijkstra.