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Apart from a number of high-profile mega-projects such as HS2 and the Heathrow and Gatwick expansion plans, the domestic infrastructure market remains rather barren for all but the leading firms. Most UK-based activity originates from the secondary market, where most outfits find steady work in asset recycling, brownfield projects and re-financings. The emerging markets of Africa and the Middle East, for example, do however generate a stable and lucrative amount of work, especially in the energy infrastructure sphere. European clients also consulted London firms to advise on several high-value transport infrastructure projects, namely with regards to highway toll and tunnel schemes.

With oil prices stabilising at around fifty dollars per barrel, the main oil and gas players such as Allen & Overy LLP and Herbert Smith Freehills LLP notice a slight and slow revival of upstream transactional work, while others have found a secure work stream in the LNG and pipeline space, especially in emerging markets.

Eroding political support for onshore renewables projects in the UK has pushed clients and firms to adopt more creative funding schemes in order to operate virtually subsidy-free, while a political desire to preserve oil reserves in the Middle East leads to an ardent demand for clean power generation and storage projects. Offshore wind farms, waste-to-energy plants, storage and transmission mandates continue to generate work alongside more innovative generation projects such a number of tidal lagoons in Wales. For nuclear work, the promise of Hinkley Point C and several other proposed UK new-build plant projects is continuing heavyweight investments from foreign entities, while decommissioning mandates also remain attractive.

The UK’s highly regulated water sector continues to be an active area, thanks in part to high-value infrastructure projects such as the Tideway Thames Tunnel and Ofwat activity. This includes its recent opening of the non-household retail market as part of its move towards a more competitive retail space. Firms such as Greenberg Traurig, LLP have kept busy advising on competition law issues, particularly with respects to the prevention of regional monopolies. Internationally, the Middle East is home to numerous independent water treatment, wastewater management and desalination projects, while Central Asia and other jurisdictions continue to approach firms for advice on the development, financing, and selling or acquisition of hydropower assets.

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