Coronavirus presents significant and novel challenges, but the complex contractual issues that it raises are familiar to us. For decades, our industry-leading lawyers have counselled international clients on force majeure, change of circumstance, and economic hardship.

Force majeure risks and strategy in oil and gas disputes

  • Represented an energy company in a shareholders dispute, under ICC Rules, relating to the shareholders’ agreement for a joint venture gas marketing company. The issues in dispute included whether the joint venture company should declare force majeure under its Spanish law-governed downstream supply contracts, as a result of upstream supply disruptions.
  • Advised a leading oil and gas major in relation to force majeure risks and strategy in respect of rapidly changing security conditions in a Middle East State requiring the evacuation of essential personnel.
  • Advising a global oil and gas leader on force majeure in Iraq as a result of security concerns following an unforeseen and serious event in the Middle East region. Arbitration, should it move forward, will be under ICC Rules, seated in Paris.
  • Advised a global oil and gas major on the force majeure provision of a concession agreement with a Middle East State that required the State to take all measures in its power to bring the force majeure to an end.

COVID-related advice under English law
Advising clients on general position under English law, in the context of COVID-19, regarding (i) force majeure/frustration of contracts and (ii) suspension or termination of contractual obligations, including decommissioning.

COVID-related advice around production limits
Advising various clients on potential contractual and investment treaty recourse against production limits imposed by States to implement COVID-related OPEC+ commitments.

COVID-related advice for a national oil company
Advising an Asian national oil company on force majeure issues arising out of the coronavirus pandemic, including its rights and obligations under certain rig contracts.

Force majeure and economic hardship in an ICC gas transportation dispute
Representing a subsidiary of a major Asian national oil company in a complex, multi-party ICC arbitration, seated in Hong Kong, arising out of a gas transportation agreement governed by Indonesian law. Claims and cross-claims in the approximately $500 million dispute relate primarily to (i) the validity of our client’s declarations of force majeure following a reduction in the amount of gas available for transportation; and (ii) our client’s right to terminate the agreement through a provision akin to an economic hardship clause.

Enforcing force majeure in disputes arising out of the Arab Spring
Advised numerous clients in the energy, oil and gas, construction, telecoms, and hospitality sectors on their contractual rights and remedies – notably the enforcement of force majeure clauses – in response to the disruption caused by the Arab Spring events in 2011 and 2012 in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. These include alleged consequential implications of the Arab Spring on the European gas market.

Force majeure in an ICC mining dispute
Advancing an argument in a French-language ICC arbitration between a Canadian mining company and an African state that circumstances of civil war in the country constituted force majeure that prevented progress on a mining exploration project and entitled the mining company to an extension of the exploration period.

Force majeure in response to an economic embargo
Advised clients in the energy, construction, and logistics sectors on their contractual rights and remedies, and enforcement of force majeure clauses, in response to the economic embargo imposed on Qatar by four of its neighbouring countries: Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain.