Quadrant Chambers Annual Energy Disputes Event: Current Challenges and Risks for Oil and Gas

Quadrant Chambers held its 4th Annual Energy Disputes Event on 3 April: Current Challenges and Risks for Oil and Gas

This year our panel included Sarah Roach, senior counsel at BP, Elisabeth Sullivan, senior legal counsel at Centrica, Sue Millar, partner, Stephenson Harwood, Chris Smith QC and Gemma Morgan of Quadrant. Simon Rainey QC chairing proceedings.

To view a recording, please see below:

They considered the following:

  • Demand v Emissions: The Dual Challenge – Sarah Roach, BP
  • Working with private equity in oil & gas: an operators’ perspective – Elisabeth Sullivan, Centrica
  • Sanctions: where are we now and what’s next? – Sue Millar, Stephenson Harwood
  • The Risky Business of Declaring Force Majeure: lessons learned from Seadrill Ghana Operations Limited v Tullow Ghana Limited – Gemma Morgan, Quadrant Chambers
  • Making it count – compliance with contractual notification regimes – Chris Smith QC, Quadrant Chambers

Our thanks go to Stephenson Harwood, who generously provided the venue for this year's event. 



Demand v Emissions: The Dual Challenge – Sarah Roach, BP

One of the most topical challenges facing energy companies at the moment is the dual challenge: the growth in world demand for energy coupled with the need to produce and deliver that energy with fewer emissions. Sarah Roach will talk about this energy transition, and the emerging threat of climate change litigation.    

Working with private equity in oil & gas: an operators’ perspective – Elisabeth Sullivan, Centrica

Elisabeth Sullivan will draw on her experience working on recent transactions with private equity backed counterparties. She will consider how PE entrants to the North Sea are impacting industry standard risk allocation in commercial negotiations and what issues this might raise for operators and other stakeholders.

Sanctions: where are we now and what’s next? – Sue Millar, Stephenson Harwood

Sue will provide a recap on the current sanctions regimes affecting Russia, Iran and Venezuela and will then consider what’s likely to be coming down the track.           

The Risky Business of Declaring Force Majeure: lessons learned from Seadrill Ghana Operations Limited v Tullow Ghana Limited – Gemma Morgan, Quadrant Chambers

Gemma Morgan, counsel for the Claimant, will explain the circumstances in which force majeure was relied upon by the rig operator to terminate the rig contract, analyse the Commercial Court’s reasoning as to when a force majeure event will occur and discuss what lessons owners and operators can learn from the decision.       

Making it count – compliance with contractual notification regimes – Chris Smith QC, Quadrant Chambers

In terms of alleviating contractual duties, the imposition of sanctions or events of force majeure will count for nothing if the parties do not take the steps required by their contract in order to obtain the necessary relief. Chris Smith will identify some pointers and pitfalls in relation to the notification regimes commonly used in the oil and gas industry.      

Simon Rainey QC

Simon Rainey QC is one of the best-known and most highly regarded practitioners at the Commercial Bar with a high reputation for his intellect and advocacy skills. He is regularly involved in high value complex energy disputes, for example: drilling and exploration projects, both in terms of construction and infrastructure issues and in relation to casualties due to failures of equipment or negligent operation involving the allocation of responsibility in complex factual and technical situations; offshore and onshore construction projects covering virtually every species of oil and gas platform, rig, FPSO, offshore vessel and wind farm; production, transportation and processing agreement matters; oilfield redetermination and boundary disputes; energy generation and energy trading etc.

Recent and current cases include: in the Commercial Court, DSME v Songa Offshore[2018] EWHC 538 (Comm); Transocean Drilling v Repsol Sinopec; Vitol E&P v New Age Energy ; Crestar Resources v Newton Energy; Teesside Gas Transportation v CATS North Sea and, in arbitration, Statoil v Chevron, Petrobras (and others) and Crescent Gas v National Iranian Oil Co. 

He is ranked by Chambers UK in Band 1 for Energy & Natural Resources (2018) and as the Star Individual for Shipping and Commodities in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018; Shipping Silk of the Year 2016 (by both Chambers UK and Legal 500) and was named in Lloyd’s List Top 10 Maritime Lawyers 2017 and again in 2018. He has long been ranked as a leading silk in both directories (UK and Asia) for Energy and also Commercial Litigation and International Arbitration, and was nominated Legal 500 International Arbitration Silk of the Year 2016-2017. Quotes include: "A strong leader in the energy field, with noted prowess in complex, high-profile oil work." "He has strong credentials in the oil trading field, combined with an agile mind, and is not afraid to push the boundaries of the law." "Exceptional for really complex energy cases, his particular skill lies in reducing the complicated to the elegantly simple." (Chambers & Partners UK Bar 2018);  ‘A first-choice QC for the very complicated cases’; ‘A senior silk with gravitas, who provides crystal-clear advice that gets to the bottom line.’ (Legal 500 2017).

He is also the author of the leading text on marine offshore contracts: "The Law of Tug and Tow and Offshore Contracts" (Informa, 4th Edn, 2018); co-author of "Offshore Contracts and Liabilities" (Informa, 2015: chapter on offshore project mutual indemnities) and co-author of "Offshore Structures: Law and Liability" (Sweet & Maxwell, publication 2019: chapters on LOGIC and IADC forms and the OGUK and AIPN JOA forms). He is a Deputy High Court Judge (Commercial Court and Queen’s Bench Division), sits as arbitrator and has performed numerous expert determinations, especially on North Sea matters.

To view Simon Rainey QC full website profile, please click here.

Sarah Roach, Senior Counsel, BP

Sarah is Senior Counsel in the small London based dispute resolution team at BP that manages significant disputes in the UK and rest of the world (other than the US).  Her experience ranges across international arbitration under all of the institutional rules and ad hoc arbitrations; litigation in various jurisdictions and mediations.  Before joining the in house team at BP in 2013, Sarah was Of Counsel in the litigation team of an international firm, based in London.

Elisabeth Sullivan, Senior Legal Counsel, Centrica

Experienced legal counsel, non-executive director, company secretary and lecturer. Experience of governance in FTSE 100, large privately owned and not-for-profit organisations. Broad international corporate and commercial experience spanning the UK, Europe and Asia Pacific. Specialist understanding in energy / natural resources.

Since 2018, senior legal counsel for Centrica plc, a FTSE 100 energy and services company, responsible for Centrica Storage Limited legal matters. From 2013 to 2017, company secretary and legal manager for Perenco UK Limited, the UK’s fourth largest oil & gas company. From 2005 to 2013, senior associate at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, an international law firm. Worked in the energy, infrastructure and mining corporate group in its London and Tokyo offices, specialising in energy M&A.

Guest lecturer at the Energy Law Institute at the Queen Mary University in London and the Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy at the University of Dundee. Non executive director at LOGIC, a not-for-profit governance body that promotes cross-industry offshore oil and gas projects in UK. Operator legal committee member, Oil and Gas UK. Committee member, Wadham College Law Society.

Sue Millar

Sue is an experienced and well-respected litigator whose expertise in commercial and banking litigation is recognised by Chambers UK. Clients value her responsiveness and her commitment to finding solutions to complex problems. She co-heads the firm's "technically strong" finance litigation team.

Sue is a finance litigation specialist. She focuses on investment banking disputes, involving highly complex products and structures. Her expertise extends to commercial and private banking and trade finance disputes.

She is also recognised for her expertise in commercial dispute resolution where her pragmatic approach wins praise. Clients describe her as knowing "the best deal and how to achieve it". She advises a diverse range of clients including insurance brokers, asset managers, corporate and pension trustees and insolvency professionals.

Sue also leads the firm's sanctions group. She advises on a range of contentious and non-contentious issues arising in relation to the various Iranian, Libyan, Syrian and Russian sanctions regimes. Her experience in this area extends to acting for designated entities and individuals in challenging their designations before the EU Courts.

Sue co-heads the firm's Iran group with Dubai managing partner, Rovine Chandrasekera.

Chris Smith QC

Chris has a broad practice encompassing all areas of commercial law, with a particular focus on energy, dry shipping, commodities, and insurance disputes. He has appeared extensively in the Commercial Court, representing clients at all stages of proceedings, from urgent pre-action interlocutory applications all the way through to trial. Chris also appears regularly in both domestic and international arbitrations, and has undertaken cases before tribunals in London, Zurich and Hong Kong. 

Chris has a substantial energy practice with a number of reported cases including Hashwani v OMV Maurice Energy Ltd [2015] EWHC 1811; and SC DG Petrol v Vitol SA and others [2014] EWHC 3900 (Comm), [2014] EWHC 3920 & 2176 (Comm) and is currently engaged in several heavy energy arbitrations due to be heard in 2019.

Chris is recommended as a leading barrister for energy and for shipping in the Legal 500 UK and Asia Pacific editions, the latest edition quoting “He is outstanding in his legal analysis and presentation of cases before tribunals. ‘He is often the equal of silks on the other side.” He is also recommended for shipping & commodities in Chambers & Partners UK and Global guides, with the latest edition quoting “He has a razor-sharp mind and is very thorough. He comes up with brilliant arguments and gets great results.” In 2015, Chris was nominated for Junior Shipping Barrister of the Year in the Chambers UK Bar Awards. Other comments have included: “a star of the future and is a fierce advocate”; “he is thoroughly commercial and has sound judgment as to what points to fight”; “...he is very quick, responsive and user-friendly...”; “...a particularly tenacious and effective advocate; exactly the man you want in tight situations...”; “...diligent and accessible...”; “... decent, efficient and business like ...”; “... practical and with good attention to detail ...”; “... has a natural style of advocacy that goes down well in the commercial court ...”; “.... an ability to absorb enormous amounts of information and advise on a case clearly and concisely ...”

To view Chris Smith full website profile, please click here.

Gemma Morgan

Gemma is a sought after junior in a range of commercial disputes particularly in the fields of shipping, commodities, energy/offshore and construction (shipbuilding). She provides an efficient and thorough service and combines accurate legal analysis and advice with practical commercial and tactical awareness.  She has extensive experience of heavy and technically-complex cases, in particular those in the shipping and energy sectors, and enjoys working well as part of a team.

She is frequently instructed in technically demanding, complex energy and offshore work, both as sole and junior counsel and has acted in major commercial disputes in the oil and gas sector. Gemma is regularly instructed to act for and to advise clients both in respect of technical disputes and in claims arising out of issues of contractual construction and recoverability of sums paid under terminated contracts. She has extensive experience of drafting detailed pleadings in complex cases as well as advising in relation to a full spectrum of legal and technical issues arising out of energy and offshore contracts.

Gemma was identified by Legal Week as one of its ten Stars at the Bar for 2016 in a profile piece on the most promising young barristers. Gemma received the following praise from clients:

·        "She can easily hold her own against QCs on paper and in hearings."

·       "razor sharp mind, ideally suited to complex commercial disputes".

·       “… retains a strong sense of commercial awareness, which, allied with a combination of intellect, enthusiasm, and emotional empathy, marks her out as someone special.”

·       "Her confident advocacy means she can win the ear of the judge even when pitted against far more senior opponents."

·       "… excellent at giving a clear tactical steer at the outset and recognising the broader commercial considerations."

Gemma is recommended by Chambers UK and the Legal 500 UK and Asia Pacific editions as a 'Leading Junior'.

To view Gemma Morgan full website profile, please click here.