Overview

Increased globalization of the energy sector has made dispute avoidance and resolution strategies increasingly important for mitigating risk. Our lawyers represent energy clients in every sector of the global energy industry and have experience litigating and arbitrating complex, multimillion and multibillion dollar claims in virtually every form of dispute and forum. We frequently advise clients on strategies to minimize risk and alternative dispute resolution methods to avoid expensive litigation when disputes arise. Our global presence allows us to bring a broad perspective and provide practical advice to dispute resolution planning, together with extensive experience in written and oral advocacy to maximize our clients’ position where litigation cannot be avoided.

We represent participants in the energy industry in both commercial and investment litigation and arbitration. We have handled matters for producers, processors, transporters and distributors of all forms of energy, the companies that service and support these industry participants, and host governments and national oil companies. We have been successful on behalf of clients in all facets of the energy supply chain.

Litigation
Mayer Brown is well-known for its experience in litigating and arbitrating complex, multimillion- and billion-dollar lawsuits related to energy. We frequently represent clients in disputes relating to oil and gas exploration and production activities and the many contractual and investment related issues that arise from those activities; construction and engineering of refineries, petrochemical plants, LNG liquefaction and gasification facilities, power plants and the like; all forms of energy trading and supply arrangements; transportation and distribution arrangements; antitrust and trade regulation; governmental regulatory matters; and host government interference with transnational investments.

Because of our work in this field we are thoroughly familiar with industry technology and contractual arrangements. In addition, we are thoroughly familiar with legal issues affecting the industry, including licensing, production sharing, joint venture, areas of mutual interest, and joint operating agreements; merger and acquisition agreements; off-take and supply contracts; investment agreements, stabilization clauses and the like; protection of intellectual property; as well as the network of bilateral and multi-lateral investment protection treaties and the substantive and procedural protection they afford to transnational investments. We are intimately familiar with the range of issues arising in complex construction and engineering projects, including design defects, delay damages, cost overruns and the various contractual regimes for resolving construction disputes. Our lawyers are experienced with analyzing damages issues in energy cases–such as valuation of oil and gas reserves, the cost of construction delays, replacement power, etc.–and in the application of economic theory to those issues. In addition, our energy-related work has given us extensive experience with a variety of alternative dispute resolution methods, such as making presentations to our adversary's management, participating in summary jury trials, dispute resolution boards as well as trials and hearings in courts and arbitration forums around the world.

International Arbitration
In cross-border commerce and investments, arbitration is often the only way to ensure that disputes are addressed in a neutral forum, free from the potential bias and unpredictability of local courts. In addition, a network of international treaties makes arbitration awards enforceable in almost every corner of the world–unlike the judgments of national courts. Our lawyers are thoroughly familiar with the substance, procedure and culture of international commercial and investment arbitrations and expert at the oral and written presentation of complex factual and legal issues in the international context.

Bilateral and multilateral investment treaties provide international investors with both substantive protection against host-government abuses, including expropriation without adequate compensation, unfair or inequitable treatment or discrimination. In addition, such treaties guaranty access to neutral forums to resolve claims against host governments, even in the absence of a specific arbitration agreement with that government. We are expert in advising our clients on how to optimize the protection available under these treaties through a process akin to tax planning in structuring investments. We also routinely advise clients on steps to take in advance of a dispute maturing to avoid the problem or to maximize their preparation for a subsequent arbitration should it prove unavoidable.

Our experience includes the representation of clients in arbitration matters pending before many of the world's leading arbitral institutions, including the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the ICC Court of International Arbitration, the London Court of International Arbitration, the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre and the American Arbitration Association/International Center for Dispute Resolution, as well as ad hoc proceedings under the UNCITRAL Rules, with particular emphasis on upstream oil and gas matters, complex construction disputes, derivatives, and intellectual property issues.

Investigations
Our lawyers are also experienced in conducting internal investigations for audit, special litigation and other board or management committees for companies in the energy industry. These include investigations in matters alleging wrongdoing by employees, payments to foreign officials and improper trading activities. Additionally, we have years of experience in assisting companies in establishing and implementing their legal and regulatory compliance programs.

We also routinely represent clients in hearings, investigations and contested actions before energy industry regulatory authorities.

Experience

Oil & Gas

  • Alliance pipeline project. We represented owners in arbitrations with various contractors regarding cost overruns, delays and other claims on lengthy segments of a 2,600-mile pressurized gas pipeline from Northern British Columbia to Joliet, Illinois.
  • Angola construction dispute. We represented engineering design company in a dispute with a Korean construction company involving deficient design, construction and offset claims and terminating license of proprietary technology relating to an offshore oil rig in Angola.
  • BASF. We successfully defended BASF AG and its subsidiary Wintershall AG in a multibillion dollar dispute with Moncrief Oil International Inc. in which Moncrief claimed it was excluded from the exploitation of the Jushno-Russkoye gas field in Siberia. Moncrief had claimed that BASF and Wintershall had encouraged Gazprom to ignore the various contractual obligations allegedly owed to Moncrief.
  • Central Asian oil and gas joint ventures. We represented state-owned exploration, production and refining entities in three arbitrations under the auspices of the ICC Court of International Arbitration, sited in Houston and Stockholm. The arbitrations arose out of two joint ventures between host government entities and a foreign oil company for the exploitation of oil and gas properties. Remedies at issue included termination of the ventures, recovery of ownership of the fields involved and damage claims exceeding three billion dollars.
  • Construction defects. We defended international bank as agent and issuing bank of syndicated project finance loan, in FAA arbitration in New York, including US federal court lawsuits related to enforcement of arbitration agreements involving claims for hundreds of million of dollars in alleged defects in construction and insurance claims from borrower’s construction of refinery tail gas processing plants in Louisiana.
  • Construction delays. We represented industrial services company in claim against engineer for construction delays due to late engineering for expansion project at a gasoline refinery in California.
  • Exxon Valdez oil spill. We successfully represented Exxon Mobil in its $2.5 billion appeal in connection of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. The US Supreme Court ruled that the $2.5 billion punitive damages award was excessive under maritime law and cut the award to $500 million.
  • Fixed bill program. We successfully represented supplier of gas in a putative class action in which the plaintiff asserted Consumer Fraud Act claims arising from a "Fixed Bill" program for residential gas service.
  • Gas feedstock. We won a substantial award on behalf of the Canadian owner of a major fertilizer plant in Alaska in ICDR arbitration and litigation in California state court against its supplier of gas feedstock arising out of the agreement for the purchase and sale of the plant and the related gas-supply contract.
  • Kazakh oil fields. We represented an independent consulting firm in an ad hoc arbitration in Stockholm under UNCITRAL rules against a Canadian oil company for fees arising out of services rendered in connection with the acquisition and operation of an oil field in Kazakhstan.
  • Latin American M&A dispute. We are representing the buyers in an international arbitration before the AAA/IDCR in New York in connection with a dispute arising from the acquisition of oil and gas assets in Peru.
  • Latin America pipeline. We represented a gas transporter in Peru in an ICC arbitration against various gas providers with respect to the interruption of the gas supply line.
  • Middle East pipeline. We are representing our client in a major ICC Arbitration proceedings against Saipem concerning the anti-corrosion coating of a gas pipeline between Qatar and Dubai.
  • Residential services. We successfully defended a US supplier of residential gas in a variety of actions in different levels of the Illinois court system arising from spills of mercury in the homes of more than 1,000 residential customers. The actions included a class action, individual personal injury and property damage claims, enforcement actions brought by numerous governmental agencies, and recovery actions against contractors that spilled mercury while working for the company.

Power

  • China hydro claims. We acted as lead lawyers for the Ministry of Water Resources on claims of RMB 7 billion on a hydroelectric dam and power plant in Henan Province, China. Various aspects of underground tunneling were investigated and explored.
  • European construction arbitration. We successfully represented engineering firm associated with an international energy company in an arbitration which provided detail design, construction management and procurement services to the EPC contractor of a cogeneration facility in the Netherlands against claims of malpractice, cost overruns and delays.
  • European nuclear arbitration. We handled a series of arbitration/mediation matters—including one European arbitration—involving billions of dollars for the Nuclear Energy Division of a transnational company. These matters principally involved responsibility for the costs of repairing or replacing major components of nuclear power plants and consequential damages flowing from delay/downtime.
  • North American nuclear plant dispute. We represented the supplier of four complete nuclear plants in the US against the owner’s claim that it was contractually responsible for various cost overruns and necessary modifications to the units. The claim, for about $250 million, was settled short of litigation, after an extensive voluntary ADR process between the two parties.
  • Philippine ICC arbitration. We defended a major manufacturer against the Philippine government in a multiphase, ICC arbitration in Switzerland. Our client was sued for breach of contract, fraud and bribery in connection with its construction of a nuclear power plant in the Philippines. The arbitrators decided in our client’s favor.

Renewables

  • European biodiesel dispute. We advised the National Biodiesel Board in potential trade litigation by the European Biodiesel Board which has threatened widespread anti-dumping and countervailing duty complaints against US exports.
  • Waste to energy power plant. We acted for insurers of EPC contractor in relation to claims that UK power plant failed to achieve minimum performance guarantee.
  • Wind farm dispute. We are advising an international power generation company with respect to a dispute and potential arbitration arising out of multiple design/manufacturing failures.
  • Wind farm litigation. We represented Horizon Wind Energy in its development of the 400 MW electric wind farm in Illinois known as Twin Groves. This representation included defending Horizon in litigation challenging the construction of the wind farm (with all claims which had the potential to negatively impact the construction of the project having been dismissed). The case also raised a number of issues of wider implication for the industry.