With the Arctic ice melting, the prospects for substantial development of Arctic infrastructure and resources over the next decade are significant, presenting major opportunities for private sector developers, investors, and governments. Given the remote location, inhospitable climate, environmental sensitivity, and geopolitical positioning, however, major challenges exist that could limit the fulsome development of Arctic opportunities if left unaddressed.
A vast, largely unexplored resource play, the Arctic is estimated by the U.S. Geological Survey to contain 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 90 billion barrels of oil. Many more resources, including fisheries and subsea mineral deposits, are also potentially at stake. Accessing, developing, and extracting these resources are projected to attract billions of dollars in investment in the region over the next decade. K&L Gates offers integrated business solutions for Arctic investment, incorporating a wide range of disciplines from finance to transactional due diligence to regulatory compliance to lobbying and advocacy and more.
With a global platform, including offices in the political and financial centers of major Arctic players such as the United States, Russia, and China, K&L Gates is strategically positioned to help its clients navigate the competing commercial and geopolitical interests involved in this emerging business frontier. The firm’s global experience in oil, gas, and other natural resources, maritime and fisheries issues, international trade, and environmental compliance matters means that K&L Gates is uniquely able to support clients moving into the new frontier.
With an estimated 22 percent of the recoverable oil and gas resources in the world, Arctic development has the potential to reshape the energy industry. Some areas, such as Alaska’s North Slope, Cook Inlet and Interior regions, the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, and the Barents Sea, are already sites for exploration and drilling operations. And with more than 200 lawyers focusing on legal issues related to exploring for, producing, transporting, storing, marketing, and processing crude oil, natural gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG), natural gas liquids (NGL), and other petroleum products, K&L Gates offers a global team to advise clients on oil and gas matters.
Our experience in the oil and gas sector includes representing clients in upstream, midstream and downstream projects and transactions.
Based on our depth and breadth of experience, our oil and gas team can add practical value to the development and construction of projects in the Arctic and beyond from the earliest days of project conceptualization, into the front-end engineering and design process, through the negotiation of EPC contracts, in planning and implementing project and conventional financing, through the commercial agreements for the sale of the product, and in responding to and administering claims, arbitrations and other construction related disputes.
The United States is expected to play a critical role in the global governance that affects development of the Arctic region, particularly with its current two-year chairmanship of the Arctic Council through May 2017.
K&L Gates is well-positioned to help clients with the public policy issues that will influence Arctic development. We have a large and well-established public policy practice group in Washington, D.C. Our prominence is recognized by publications including Chambers USA, Legal 500, and the National Law Journal's “Influence 50.” The practice includes nearly 50 policy professionals, including three former members of Congress, many former officials with federal agencies (such as the Departments of Transportation and Energy, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Environmental Protection Agency), and former congressional staff.
The public policy practice in Washington, D.C. complements the practice of our Anchorage lawyers who have vast experience working on our clients’ natural resource development issues in Alaska with Alaska government policy makers as well as regulators. We have excellent working relations with relevant committees of Congress, including members and professional staff of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, which is chaired by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). The practice is highly regarded for its maritime and fisheries experience and works closely with the U.S. Coast Guard, a key agency in developing U.S. Arctic strategy.
Our public policy team has been actively engaged in matters advising clients on Arctic issues such as compliance with maritime and fisheries laws, the development and export of Alaska crude oil, and helping Alaska Native Corporations develop their own resources.
K&L Gates is among the few large law firms with a maritime practice capable of handling legal, transactional, legislative, and regulatory issues on a global scale. The complex issues that affect the maritime industry, particularly emerging issues impacting those operating in the Arctic, often involve more than one branch of government. The group’s extensive experience working with every branch of government provides our clients effective and creative solutions to legislative, administrative, and judicial issues. Our comprehensive experience in traditional maritime matters involves matters such as collisions, groundings, cargo claims, arrests/attachments, ship construction and sale, charter disputes, insurance, limitation of liability, injuries/deaths, port state control, and more. Our maritime practice is consistently recognized by Chambers USA.
We have substantial experience representing clients before Congress, various administrative and executive agencies (such as the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), and in civil and criminal enforcement cases before the courts, on matters related to the: Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and the Clean Water Act; MARPOL and the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships; Ocean Dumping Ban Act; Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act; Clean Air Act; Wildlife Refuge Act; Migratory Bird Act; Marine Mammal Protection Act; and various international conventions and treaties.
Our lawyers and policy professionals have handled major emergency response and pollution matters, including significant engagement in the Exxon Valdez incident and the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Macondo oil spill.
Our multidisciplinary practices allow us to serve our maritime clients in various areas, including representation in capital markets and securities law matters, labor and employment law, real estate transactions, international transactions of every form, commercial litigation and arbitration, bankruptcy and workouts, construction law, insurance coverage disputes, intellectual property law issues, technology matters, corporate governance, employee benefits, sanctions, piracy, investigations, trade regulation, and anti-corruption (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and its international counterparts), among many others. We have used these capabilities to provide services such as acquisitions and divestitures of shipping companies and/or their divisions, financing of both U.S.-registered and foreign-registered ships, environmental compliance audits, dispute resolution, internal investigations, negotiations of charter parties and ship management arrangements, structuring of shipping businesses to achieve maximum tax efficiency, antitrust counseling and litigation, resolving international trade and customs duties and tariff issues, and government contracting counseling and litigation.
With the Arctic still largely undeveloped, building infrastructure is key to ensuring the growth of a productive business climate. K&L Gates lawyers have advised clients on major global infrastructure projects involving public-private partnerships, project finance, construction and public facilities, energy and utilities, transportation, mining, water, wastewater and reclaimed projects, telecommunication facilities and social infrastructure.
When working on infrastructure projects, we collaborate with sponsors, developers, or promoters of projects as well as banks, investors, vendors, landowners, contractors (engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) and operation and maintenance (O&M)), operators, and equipment suppliers to understand the dynamics of the project from each of their perspectives. We then advise our clients on the best means of achieving their goals, drawing on the knowledge of our multi-disciplinary professionals practicing in the areas of tax, insurance coverage, environmental, employment and labor, real estate, public utilities, and others.
Our lawyers respond to the diverse, detailed, and innovative legal requirements applicable to the process of structuring, developing, constructing, and operating projects and facilities. In developing and structuring projects, we assist in multiple sectors, including governance arrangements and tax-efficient entity structures. We are familiar with international procurement laws, which increasingly impact international projects. In the financing phase, our lawyers implement traditional project financing, structured finance, taxable and tax-advantaged debt, tax increment financing, tax credit financing, equity, fund investments, project and municipal bonds, securitizations, restructurings, and intercreditor arrangements.
Businesses should expect vigilance from state and federal authorities when facing due diligence issues and compliance with environmental laws in the resource-rich but environmentally sensitive Arctic region. We advise companies on compliance with both state and federal environmental laws and regulations, including those administered by the State of Alaska, the U.S. Coast Guard, EPA, and state regulations relating to the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, and various international conventions and treaties, among others. We also conduct internal investigations of environmental violations and represent companies before Congress and regulatory agencies. We advise and assist companies in responding to regulatory and legislative initiatives as well as developing effective compliance programs and systems. In addition, we represent companies in litigation relating to environmental requirements applicable to the industry, including issues such as challenges to Vessel General Permit requirements and the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.
Our environmental lawyers represent clients in areas and industries active in the Arctic region such as project development, oil and gas, and mining. We also represent a wide range of U.S. and international fishing industry enterprises, as well as lenders and others involved with the fishing industry. And with policy a major factor in Arctic development, the firm provides general counseling and assistance to resolve issues of fisheries policy before administrative and legislative bodies.