The firm was originally founded to service clients in the Energy and Natural Resources (Oil & Gas) sectors. These practice areas have since evolved from our understanding of the dynamics of these sectors, their issues and participants to experience derived from advising and assisting multinational producing and service companies, lenders, investors, contractors and other project participants in connection with projects and transactions within these sectors. In so doing, we aim to add value by offering, a commercial appreciation of what it takes to make transactions, investments and projects, particularly within the electric power, oil and gas sectors, “bankable” from a legal perspective.
From an energy perspective, our firm had its earliest contact with the power sector when we were hired as part of a team of local and international lawyers to advise the National Electric Power Authority on the re-negotiation of certain power purchase agreements and, subsequently, to represent the authority in its negotiations with prospective independent power producers. Those transactions, which spanned a period of four years, and which culminated in the conclusion of power purchase agreements in respect of a 270 MW barge-mounted project, a 450 MW combined cycle power plant, a 276 MW Afam V power plant and a 600MW power plant, provided us with a unique opportunity to acquire theoretical as well as practical knowledge of the industry and to get to meet, know, and understand its principal participants.
We have maintained a continued involvement with the power sector since that time and are currently advising local and international lenders in connection with various projects, including the financing of integrated power projects that include the establishment of the power plant and transmission facilities, as well as the distribution of the power to be generated within ring-fenced distribution zones. We also represented local and international lenders in capacity building gas–fired power projects. In addition to acting for an off-taker (NEPA) and local and international lenders, we have also provided support to the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission in the drafting of certain regulations. Our background knowledge about the electric power sector is further enhanced by the fact that our firm was also part of a team of local and international consultants that advised on a strategy for the development of the Nigerian downstream gas sector and drafted a downstream gas-specific act.
Oil and gas
The firm developed its initial experience in oil and gas when it acted as legal advisers in the negotiations leading to the formation of Nigeria LNG Limited (the company that operates the Nigeria liquefied natural gas project) and, in that capacity, were called upon to provide legal opinions in respect of the Nigerian regulatory environment for oil and gas. The firm continued to develop its experience when its senior partner served as a member of the LNG Working Committee. We provided legal support to the Committee and therefore had to fully examine the legal issues and problems that were likely to be encountered in raising financing for the LNG project. Since its initial LNG experience, the firm has advised on various proposed oil and gas investments and represented both multinational and Nigerian oil firms in negotiating oil and gas investment transactions.
The firm has advised on matters such as the regulatory framework for oil and gas in Nigeria; the processes and procedures for obtaining authorisations from the Department of Petroleum Resources and the Nigerian Export Processing Zones including the oil and gas export free zone, licensing procedures under the bidding rounds; joint ventures, investments, technical service and management relationships with local companies, the tax regime applicable to oil and gas transactions in Nigeria, the viability of certain proposed oil and gas investor financing arrangements under Nigerian law, foreign investment in companies operating within the Marginal Oil Fields Programme, marginal field operations, domestic gas supply and pricing policy and regulations, local content compliance and on negotiating, drafting and resolving disputes under petroleum industry contracts. We also provide advice and dispute resolution representation and support to multinational and indigenous exploration and production companies and oil service companies in connection with their day-to-day operations, projects and transactions. We currently advise global producers of gas in relation to their Nigerian activities, and are assisting strategic investors in the emerging natural gas sector with structuring their investments and formalising their arrangements with local partners within the available legal and regulatory framework.