Power Surge

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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.

 

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A breath of fresh air

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Over the course of the past decade renewable energy has become a mainstream part of the energy sector. With investment flooding into projects across Europe, domestic and international firms are connecting with a new revenue stream

In renewable energy the emphasis is on thinking big. From the chain of offshore wind farms forming around Britain’s coast, to the solar plants strung out across southern Spain, to an ambitious proposal to cover parts of the Sahara with solar panels, billions are being poured into myriad projects. As national governments scramble to meet the targets agreed by the EU — to produce 20% less carbon dioxide, improve energy efficiency by 20% and increase renewable energy to 20% of the energy mix — investors and their advisers are getting to grips with a rapidly evolving sector.

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Breaking convention

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Despite the lip service paid to renewables, fossil fuels are far and away the leading source of global energy consumption. In the first part of LB’s global energy focus, we analyse the current trends in coal, natural gas and oil

In December 2009 Copenhagen replaced beleaguered golf star Tiger Woods as the most popular search term on Google — a fact that the United Nations Climate Change Conference boasted proudly on its homepage — as, of course, the Danish capital played host to the environmental summit. In finding ways to conserve it and make it cleaner, energy is now officially top of the global agenda.

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Over a barrel

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A recent victory in The Hague has green-lit a record-breaking $100bn claim by Yukos’ majority shareholders against the Russian Federation. Legal Business investigates an arbitration that could change the face of international investment forever

On 31 May 2005, Mikhail Khodorkovsky shuffled into the spartan confines of Moscow’s Meshchansky courtroom for the last time, his hands and feet bound in shackles. Alongside co-defendant Platon Lebedev, he was placed inside a steel cage, flanked either side by armed militsiya guards. He was not facing trial for murder or some other violent crime, but for alleged fraud and tax evasion as part of a wider case against Russian oil giant Yukos, of which he was CEO.

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