07 Mar 2018

Womble Bond Dickinson was delighted to partner with the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce to host an event entitled "Beyond Houston" about investment in the USA on 6 March 2018.

The event gave an overview of the opportunities available within the US O&G market, detailing the key investors and contractors to look out for as well as key projects taking place across the current upstream, midstream and downstream markets where future opportunities may arise. The transatlantic theme aligned perfectly with our ability to offer transatlantic legal service from a local presence.

The US Embassy's 'Counselor for Commercial Affairs' gave the keynote speech which was chaired by Womble Bond Dickinson Oil & Gas partner Richard Cockburn. Neil Golding, head of oil and gas at the Energy Industries Council, and Deborah O'Neil, chief executive of Novabiotics, also presented.

Cost disputes on the rise?

Cost disputes in upstream JVs appear to be on the rise (unsurprising in light of recent market conditions) - in Marathon Oil U.K. LLC v Centrica Resources Limited, Taqa Bratani Limited, Taqa Bratani LNS Limited [2018] EWHC 322 (Comm), the Commercial Court considered the contractual arrangements under a 1980 joint operating agreement and a 1990 unitisation and unit operating agreement relating to the Brae fields to decide whether pension costs relating to staff employed by the operator - namely a proportion of deficit recovery charges for a defined benefit pension scheme of which some of those employees were beneficiaries - could be charged to its joint venture partners. In his judgement of 21 February 2018, Mr Justice Robin Knowles found that, alongside the other employee costs, the operator's joint venture partners were indeed liable to meet a share of those pension costs.
 
This case will once again have operators and co-venturers alike reaching for their operating agreements to look at potential rights and liabilities and parallels between this case and any other cost disputes, whether or not fact specific.