The energy sector has five main characteristics. First, it is capital intensive. Second, it is specialized. There is little in common between the oil industry (conventional and unconventional), the nuclear energy industry, the gas industry (natural gas and LNG), the power industry, and the renewable energies industry. Among renewable energies, there are significant differences between solar, wind, hydro-electricity and other renewables. Third, the energy sector is sensitive to variations of the price of commodities. Historically, oil prices were the driving factor but this is no longer the case; many competing fuels are traded in their own right, such as gas or electricity. Fourth, the sector is heavily regulated. Regulation spans from the exploration, development and commercialization phases, when energy is based on an extractive industry, to transportation and supply to the final consumer. Regulation is also key for renewable energies that are, by and large, subsidized by governments. Fifth, it is directly dependent on government take and governments tend to change the rules of the game depending on their needs.
These characteristics make the energy sector a strong candidate for major disputes. These disputes inevitably entail complex technical, contractual, political and regulatory aspects. When there is an international element – and an international element is often present – these disputes generally go to international arbitration.
Quinn Emanuel built its reputation by carving success from long odds in “bet the company” litigation. We are home to many of the best dispute resolution lawyers in the world and our energy lawyers are no exception, but we offer far more than just legal expertise. We offer a global approach geared towards the satisfaction of our clients’ strategic goals. Our approach is based on a full understanding of the underlying technical issues. It relies on unparalleled advocacy skills, with the best practitioners from both the common law and the civil law worlds. It focuses on the goal to be reached and the shortest and most efficient way to reach it.
No wonder that our partners have been involved in the largest and most complex energy disputes in recent history. To take a few examples that made their way to the public domain our partners currently represent Exxon and Petronas against Chad in the largest ICC arbitration ever, with USD 77 billion in dispute. One of our partners also represented the majority shareholders of Yukos in the arbitrations that led to the largest award ever with more than USD 50 billion being awarded.
We regularly represent industry giants, such as Entergy, Exxon, Total, Shell, CNOOC, Occidental Petroleum, Petronas, Sonatrach, EDF and Repsol as well as start-up technology companies. We represent energy clients in disputes over patents, environmental claims and investigations, regulatory, contract, tax and tariff stabilization, price review, operation of hardship provisions, and business tort issues in court cases, regulatory proceedings, and international arbitrations. We have extensive experience handling arbitrations between energy companies and foreign governments under project agreements, bilateral investment treaties (BITs), and the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT). A small selection of credentials is set out below, providing a flavor of our expertise in a range of different areas.
PSAs, PSCs, Concession Agreements:
JOAs, JVAs and related Agreements:
Transportation/Storage Agreements (pipelines, etc.):
Agreements with Contractors (drilling etc.):
Long term Gas Supply Agreements (other than price reviews):
Long term Electricity contracts:
Investment Disputes: Oil & Gas
Electricity & Power
Regulatory and Environment
Energy Sector Disputes
Quinn Emanuel mourns the loss of one of its name partners, Bill Urquhart. Bill joined the firm 31 years ago when it was just a few lawyers in downtown Los Angeles. Bill was a visionary and helped lead a transformation of the firm from a small litigation boutique to the largest and most successful litigation firm in the world, with over 800 lawyers in 23 offices on four continents.
In his legal practice, Bill was a sage counselor and trusted advisor for both plaintiffs and defendants, and for numerous Fortune 100 companies in their most important disputes — matters that usually involved tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of dollars. Over the years he advised IBM, Hughes, Johnson Controls, CNA, Nokia and Qualcomm, among many many others.
For the many people at the firm who were fortunate to know Bill, he was more than a visionary partner and excellent lawyer, he was also a friend, who lived and loved life. He was loved and will be missed.
He leaves behind his wife Mary and 6 children, and our thoughts are with them in this time of grief.