Under the Petroleum Act 1998, the Secretary of State is authorized to grant licenses for the exploitation and production of hydrocarbons. The legal characteristic of such licenses has been an open question. If petroleum licenses are a statutory instrument, they would be subject to principles of public and administrative law. Whereas, if deemed to be a creation of private law, petroleum licenses would be governed by the law of contract. There are a number of important consequences resulting from the legal characterization. These include (as the case below illustrates) the procedure for amendments of license terms and potential administrative law arguments that the Secretary of State should be prohibited from acting ultra vires (i.e., outside his powers).
A recent report on decommissioning provides up-to-date predictions for the future costs of dismantling infrastructure in the United Kingdom Continental Shelf. It is the first financial estimate by the Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) since the regulator was established in 2016. The methodology used is different from that of previous surveys.
The report is noteworthy in its application of the new statutory requirement of Maximising Economic Recovery (MER). As applied to decommissioning, this requires that persons undertaking an activity must do so in a cost-effective way. This includes employing new and emerging technology. The report emphasizes the potential to reduce costs by the application of MER.
Chrysoar, a little known oil company, backed by U.S. private equity (PE) firm EIG Partners, made headlines this week when it purchased $3.8 billion of North Sea assets from Shell. The sale comprises more than half of Shell’s North Sea asset base. It is part of a debt reduction program implemented after its acquisition of BG Group, with Shell targeting divestments totaling $30 billion by 2018. Rather than recycling proceeds into new capital projects (whether in the North Sea or elsewhere), the purchase price will be used to pay down existing loans.
(Houston) – Lawyers and advisors at Akin Gump held a briefing today, titled “The Global Energy Industry: A Look to the Year Ahead in 2017,” addressing some of the big issues likely to affect the global energy industry in the coming year. The event was held as an in-person briefing in the firm’s Houston office and as a webinar for participants around the world.
Globe Law & Business, in its new book Oil and Gas Sale and Purchase Agreements, has included several chapters written by Akin Gump lawyers. The chapters and their corresponding authors are as follows:
- “Conditions precedent and deferred completions,” by oil and gas partner John LaMaster
- “Oil and gas warranties,” by oil and gas counsel Caroline-Lucy Moran
- “Environmental provisions in upstream acquisitions and divestitures,” by environment and natural resources partner emeritus Paul Gutermann
- “Decommissioning,” by oil and gas counsel Nicholas Antonas and partner Marc Hammerson
- “Anti-corruption provisions,” by international trade counsel Nicole D’Avanzo and partner Tatman Savio
- Oil and gas boilerplate provisions,” by John LaMaster
A significant development occurred in the United Kingdom’s oil and gas industry on 1 October 2016. The Oil & Gas Authority (OGA), the industry regulator, was converted from an executive agency of the government to a company with the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy as its sole shareholder.
On 23 June 2016, the UK electorate voted in a referendum to leave the European Union (EU). This outcome is expected to have far-reaching consequences for UK industry, including the oil & gas sector. These include: short- to medium-term uncertainty; potential changes to legislation affecting the downstream industry; restrictions on the free movement of goods and people; effects on the gas market; and renewed impetus for Scottish independence. It is impossible at this early stage to reach any definitive conclusions regarding the consequences of Brexit to the UK oil & gas industry, but this article will discuss certain issues that are likely to be of interest and relevant.
(Houston) – Akin Gump is pleased to announce it has released its “2015 Energy Year in Review,” which examines the current state of the global energy market and highlights the energy matters with which the firm was involved last year in the following areas:
- financial restructuring
- capital markets
- project development and project finance
- energy regulation, markets and enforcement
- energy litigation and international arbitration.