February 28, 2017
by Rob Jaques
Stillwater’s litigation support business has grown significantly over the past couple of years. These projects have included an $8 billion arbitration case, a $12 million crude-by-rail lawsuit, a $5 million biodiesel lawsuit, and others. As a result of this growing business, Senior Associate Jim Langley and I decided to attend the Center for American and International Law Annual Oil and Gas Law Conference in Houston on February 16 and 17. We attended interesting sessions about the impact of Brexit on International Dispute Resolution, the potential impact of the Trump Administration and the new Congress on the industry, and the impact of the downturn on Host Governments.
Earl Pomeroy, former Congressman from North Dakota, delivered the keynote about what lies ahead for the industry as the new administration gets down to work. He opened with a quote from Monty Python – “And now for something completely different.” As he reviewed the public pronouncements of the president during his campaign, the nominees for key cabinet posts, the Republican-led House and Senate, and the 32 states currently led by Republican governors, the direction towards reduced regulation became clear. In fact, sitting in the audience one could almost hear the voice of Yoda saying, “Begun, the deregulations wars have…”.
The conference included many sessions dedicated to the impact of the crude oil market downturn or political changes on the industry. There were sessions about buying and selling assets of distressed companies, reserve-based lending, and royalty litigation. Four panelists from the UK gave their opinion on the impact of Brexit on London as a center of International Dispute Resolution (IDR). In their opinion, London’s status in IDR is related to English Common Law and the pattern of English courts rather than the UK’s membership in the EU.
Overall, the conference provided a number of interesting viewpoints, and the timing in the first few weeks of the new U.S. administration provided several speakers with the opportunity to discuss issues in real-time.