The $6.4trn question – as legal advisers jostle for position, can shale gas live up to the hype?

Jaishree Kalia assesses the big hopes and big risks facing the emerging shale gas industry

Every few years a new sector or niche comes along that promises huge opportunities for law firms that can tactically position themselves. Such hyped sectors often turn out to disappoint, but there is no doubt that the shale gas industry has become the latest – and hottest – touted market.

It’s not hard to see why interest has been piqued. In a little over a decade, shale gas has transformed the energy dynamics of the world’s largest economy, now constituting over 20% of US energy production. Having turned the US into an energy exporter, it is expected to exceed 40% of US energy output by 2035. Continue reading “The $6.4trn question – as legal advisers jostle for position, can shale gas live up to the hype?”

Texan draw: Dentons opens in Houston as shale gas draws players in

Texan draw: Dentons opens in Houston as shale gas draws players in

Partly thanks to the shale gas energy phenomenon Texas has become one of the most attractive markets in the US and it is little surprise that Dentons yesterday (24 September) announced it is to open in Houston.

Home to energy giants Baker Botts, Vinson & Elkins and Jones Day, the widening draw of Houston was affirmed in 2010 when Latham & Watkins opened an office with the hire of lawyers from Baker Botts and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, including former energy head Michael Dillard. In 2011 Norton Rose was reportedly looking at the region: that ambition was achieved this year with its merger with Houston-founded leading energy firm Fulbright & Jaworski. Continue reading “Texan draw: Dentons opens in Houston as shale gas draws players in”

Reappointing and renewables – the newly-merged Norton Rose Fulbright and Bond Dickinson in again on Crown Estate energy panel

Norton Rose Fulbright and Bond Dickinson have been reappointed to the Crown Estate’s energy and infrastructure panel in what will be regarded as an important win for both law firms.

The Crown Estate said that the move ‘consolidated legal advice across an extremely diverse portfolio’, cutting the body’s previous specialist panel from five to two advisers after a competitive tender process. The appointments will be considered as trophy roles for both firms, in particular underlining their credentials in the renewable energy sector, which remains a coveted area for advisers despite protracted challenges in Europe’s sustainable energy sector. Continue reading “Reappointing and renewables – the newly-merged Norton Rose Fulbright and Bond Dickinson in again on Crown Estate energy panel”

Can you be sure of Shell? Coveted oil giant unveils new panel

Can you be sure of Shell? Coveted oil giant unveils new panel

Eleven firms, including Allen & Overy (A&O) and Baker & McKenzie, have been successful in winning a place on Shell’s new global legal panel, which was unveiled yesterday (22 May).

The tender, which kicked off in March, went out to 357 firms in 20 jurisdictions. The aim, according to legal director Peter Rees QC, was to find between two and five suitable firms for each practice area in each jurisdiction who would then be ‘pre-qualified’ for Shell legal work and who would compete with each other for significant mandates. Continue reading “Can you be sure of Shell? Coveted oil giant unveils new panel”

Andrew Carr – Sellafield

Andrew Carr – Sellafield

Andrew Carr

Head of legal services

Sellafield

 

Andrew Carr is modest about the pressures of being one of the most high-profile general counsel in the country, but few industries have experienced the dramatic swings and roundabouts of the nuclear sector. It is important for Carr that external counsel understand the unique demands of the industry.

Continue reading “Andrew Carr – Sellafield”

Russia: pipelines east

Russia: pipelines east

The Russian legal market can be an unpredictable beast. A history of interfering politicians, corruption and debt crises, both internal and external, have meant that since the collapse of the Soviet Union, law firms in Moscow have struggled to maintain a steady grasp on just what might be around the corner. Despite all the variables, however, there is one constant, and that is the energy and natural resources sector, which dominates Russia’s foreign exports – in 2011 oil and gas revenues accounted for 10.4% of Russia’s GDP (up from 7.6% in 2009). Provided that commodity prices don’t drop for a sustained period of time – particularly crude oil, which has been strong since going above $50 a barrel in 2005 – a decent volume of work can be assured.

This was underlined in 2010, when the Russian state-owned oil producer Rosneft launched projects in the Kara and Barents Seas after obtaining licences to explore four blocks in Russia’s Arctic shelf. Three major joint ventures with the Western energy companies Exxon Mobil, Statoil and Eni were subsequently signed in 2011 and 2012. Continue reading “Russia: pipelines east”

Energy boost

Energy boost

Other practice areas may be having a tough ride but energy lawyers are flying. LB maps the trends driving the sector

There are many sectors of the economy that governments can afford to scrimp on when times get hard, but luckily for power, oil and gas companies, energy is not one of them.

Power is as vital to economic function as oxygen is to breathing; fuelling transport, communication, defence programmes and health services. In addition, the political and economic instability attached to the supply of oil and gas ensures that energy security continues to dominate national agendas.

Continue reading “Energy boost”

Power brokers

Power brokers

As all eyes turn to energy as the safe hedge in a turbulent market, there is no doubt that the sector’s general counsel are in an excellent bargaining position

In terms of legal spend, an energy company is a particularly lucrative client. To begin with, the acquisitive nature of these cash-rich corporates means that transactional advice is clearly a must. Also, as the recent BP oil spill all too effectively demonstrated, the high-risk nature of the industry provides a fair flow of environmental and litigation instructions too.

Continue reading “Power brokers”

CEE – Generating Growth

CEE – Generating Growth

Oil and gas? Renewables? Nuclear? Whichever energy source you’re selling, there’s no doubt that the appetite for power in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) seems almost insatiable. That demand, coupled with the urgent need for infrastructure, is ensuring that even those CEE economies facing the imminent threat of recession are viewing the fulfilment of their relevant construction programmes as a number one priority.

‘National authorities are seeking to improve capacities in conventional energy sources, increasing energy independence and phasing out or upgrading older polluting generation capacities,’ says Bryan Jardine, partner in the Bucharest office of Austrian-headquartered Wolf Theiss. ‘The CEE is a region that has tremendous need. Growing energy demands, coupled with ageing, inadequate and inefficient energy supply infrastructure (a legacy inherited from 45 years of Soviet-era planning and investment) is driving the need for this increased sector work and investment in the CEE.’ Continue reading “CEE – Generating Growth”

Power Surge

Power Surge

Energy clients are dictating law firms’ strategic direction and hiring policies. For now at least, energy is king. LB finds out why.

On the last day of August ExxonMobil dominated the business pages, when news broke of its $3.2bn Arctic exploration deal with Russian state-owned oil giant Rosneft. The story surprised energy specialists – a similar deal between BP and Rosneft was previously scuppered by TNK-BP, the partners in BP’s existing joint venture in Russia. The UK oil major suffered a double hit that day, when it was revealed that bailiffs had raided its offices in Moscow, linked to a case brought by TNK-BP shareholders over the failed Arctic deal with Rosneft.

These events attracted significant media attention, not just for the energy companies concerned but also the law firms involved. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which ironically advised BP on its failed deal with Rosneft, was now advising Rosneft in the deal with ExxonMobil. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld was advising the US oil major.

Deals and (more often than not) disputes between the energy giants and local incumbents have attracted significant interest in the press in recent years but it is also an inescapable fact that clients of the energy practices at some of the world’s largest law firms have dictated global growth strategies.

 

Continue reading “Power Surge”