Legal Business Blogs

In-house energy switch: senior BG Group lawyer Thomas Smith moves to Centrica

With BG Group having been taken over by Shell for £35bn in February, BG’s deputy general counsel Thomas Smith has departed to become North America energy supply and services general counsel at Centrica.

Smith, who was made deputy general counsel at BG Group in January 2015, departs following a busy period for the company’s legal function in helping to piece together the company’s takeover by Shell. He leaves after a decade at the energy giant, having joined from US law firm Vinson & Elkins in 2006.

Smith managed a team of 45 lawyers, largely in Houston, during his time as deputy GC at BG Group. He oversaw legal issues concerning BG’s operations in Trinidad and Tobago, which generated 25% of the Caribbean country’s gas output, and its £10bn investment in Brazilian deepwater oil fields, with the company aiming for an output of 400,000 barrels of oil a day by 2020 in a move that will see Shell’s acquisition become the country’s second biggest oil producer after state-run Petrobras.

Centrica, which owns British Gas, has been expanding its North American operations over the past decade and now has customers in every US state. Smith arrives with Centrica having acquired US residential solar business, Astrum Solar, for $54m in 2014 and combined heat and power provider ENER-G Cogen International, which has operations in the US and the UK, for $145m in May. Centrica’s Northern American operations fall under Direct Energy, an energy retailer with more than six million customers across the region.

Smith is the second high-profile BG Group lawyer to depart in recent times with in-house heavyweight Graham Vinter retiring as general counsel in the run-up to Shell’s purchase. Vinter’s replacement, Tom Melbye Eide, became executive vice president and GC for Royal Dutch Shell’s upstream business following the combination.