Complex, dynamic and global in scale, energy, natural resources and infrastructure are extremely profitable, and therefore valuable, sectors. Hardly surprising, then, that disputes within these prized arenas are on the rise.

Regularly impacting governments, multinationals and financial institutions, inevitable disputes can leave a trail of destruction if not resolved – whether by litigation, arbitration or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) – in good faith, in good time and in a cost-effective manner.

Multiple dichotomies drive disputes in this space. For example, disagreements can arise over exploration rights, construction and upgrade of production platforms, pipeline capacity rights, take-or-pay contracts, oil storage facility and pipeline failures, oil purchase contracts, power plant construction, turbine failures, power purchase agreements, nuclear reactor testing and fuel, offshore wind farm construction, electricity and gas trading, mineral exploration ventures and transport infrastructure projects.

Additional sources of dispute include conflicts between joint venture (JV) partners over strategy, disrupted trade and other offtake agreements, shareholder bust-ups, fraud and bribery allegations, a breakdown in the investor and bank relationship, the collapse of a deal in which one party reneges on execution, and in response to expropriation of assets, among other aspects of bilateral investment treaties and trade sanctions.

Given the scope and complexity involved, entities operating in the energy, natural resources and infrastructure sphere naturally demand comprehensive and creative legal solutions when seeking to resolve disputes that are often rancorous, contentious and, if an equitable solution is not found, expensive.

Jan-Mar 2019 issue

Fraser Tennant