Accessibility Links

Boost to London legal jobs as Magic Circle firms head up Rosneft negotiations

Posted by: Laurence Simons 03/09/12

Russian oil and gas giant set to poke about under the sea and hopefully strike oil.

Magic Circle firms Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters and Morgan, Lewis & Brockius have tapped into a rich and lucrative vein of London legal jobs as Russian state-owned oil and gas giant Rosneft retained all three of the legal powerhouses as advisers in a new joint venture with Norwegian oil and gas group Statoil.

The two companies are in the midst of thrashing out a deal as they embark on a joint exploration of oil and gas fields in the Arctic and Pacific Oceans, with Rosneft's Perseevsky license block in the Barents Sea and Kashevarovsky, Lisyansky and Magadan 1 license blocks in the Sea of Okhotsk sitting on an estimated 100 billion tonnes of untapped reserves. Basically: there is a heck of a lot of oil and gas swirling around under the oceans, and Rosneft have the golden ticket to it.

Or, more accurately, four golden tickets. The Perseevsky, Kashevarovsky, Lisyansky and Magadan licenses (keep up) each head up a separate venture, and both firms will go into the exploration phase halfy-halfies, with Rosneft sharing the licensing wealth and Statoil putting up the finance for the exploratory costs. Whatever lurks under the sea will go to Rosneft with a 66.67 per cent stake while Statoil get 33.33 per cent equity, as per an initial contract signed on May 5th. Six wells will be drilled between 2016 and 2021.

So far, so agreeable. Then why the three Magic Circle firms? Because each legal team brings something specific to the table, with all of them having previous experience in the oil and gas giants game. That's why.

Freshfield Bruckhaus Deringer is the first firm in this barbershop triplet of harmonious legal doings, working with Linklaters to advise Rosneft on corporate, commercial and antitrust aspects arising as part of the joint ventures. Freshfields' team is headed up by Moscow-based corporate partner Sergei Dyachenko, while Linklaters will be led by corporate, finance and securities partner Grigory Gadzhiev. Both firms are major players in the Russian oil and gas market in recent years, after various goings on that eventually saw them appointed as the only two firms on the coveted BP UK legal panel in 2011.

Meanwhile, Morgan Lewis are sole legal counsel to Statoil, with a team in Moscow led by business and finance partner Jonathan Hines and a London team headed up by finance partner Bruce Johnston. Morgan Lewis' Moscow base was inherited wholesale from the Dewey meltdown earlier this year, with Hines having worked with Statoil since 2004.