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United States > Industry focus > Energy transactions: oil and gas > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

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  1. Energy transactions: oil and gas
  2. Leading lawyers
  3. Next generation lawyers

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Baker Botts L.L.P. is regarded by some as ‘probably the best in the world for liquefied natural gas (LNG) project development’; practice head Jason Bennett has ‘unrivalled industry knowledge’ and is advising Sempra LNG on the Port Arthur LNG liquefaction. The practice also excels in midstream and downstream work; Jeremy Kennedy and senior associate Coleson Bruce assisted Chesapeake Energy with the disposal of its Barnett shale assets to Total. While the team is particularly deep in Houston, it also has strength in Washington DC, where Steven Miles and Mark Spivak (a recent recruit from Vinson & Elkins LLP) handled various significant LNG mandates. Other noteworthy practitioners include the ‘outstandingHugh Tucker, Austin-based Mike Bengtson, who has ‘great understanding of transactional issues’, and Ned Crady, who joined from Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP. Named individuals are based in Houston except where stated otherwise.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP further demonstrated its oil and gas intentions with the opening of an office in Houston; key hires included new global chair Michael Darden (a ‘great lawyer’), who joined from Latham & Watkins LLP, Justin Stolte, who joined from Apache, and Tull Florey, Hillary Holmes and Shalla Prichard, who all joined from Baker Botts L.L.P.. The new team’s impressive workload takes in high-value M&A, finance and capital markets work in Latin America and the US. The other key location for the practice is Denver, where Steven Talley and Robyn Zolman advised The Williams Companies on a $11.4bn repositioning transaction and the approximately $2.2bn public offering of common stock. Private equity specialist Beau Stark heads the Denver office.

Latham & Watkins LLP is probably best known for its dominant corporate practice, with master limited partnerships a particular strength. Examples of high-value M&A work included Ryan Maierson acting for Energy Transfer on the $21.3bn sale of the company to Sunoco Logistics, and well-regarded practice co-head Sean Wheeler assisting Ensco with its $860m acquisition of Atwood Oceanics. Other key figures in the ‘very strong’ Houston office are ‘highly experienced upstream lawyerRobin Fredrickson, who advised Anadarko Petroleum on the $2.3bn sale of its Eagle Ford Shale assets to Sanchez Energy and Blackstone Group, and the ‘very talentedStephen Szalkowski. The practice is co-led from New York by Christopher Cross, who was active in the midstream M&A and financing space for clients such as Energy Transfer.

Vinson & Elkins LLP is noted for its ‘deep bench’ and its impressive private equity following, that includes the likes of Apollo Global Management; corporate head Keith Fullenweider and Bryan Loocke (who is ‘extremely knowledgeable on production sharing agreements’) advised Blackstone Energy on its $2bn acquisition of EagleClaw Midstream Ventures. The broad client base also includes independent oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) companies and master limited partnerships; Fullenweider and Creighton Smith acted for Vantage Energy on its $2.7bn sale to Rice Energy, and practice co-head John Connally and Mark Brazzil assisted Antero Midstream with a joint venture to develop processing and fractionation assets in Appalachia. While the practice is primarily located in Houston, where all lawyers named thus far are based, it also has outlets in New York and Dallas. Houston-based James Cuclis co-heads the team.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP benefited from the US upturn in midstream transactions, with the team active on a number of mandates including practice heads John Goodgame and Christine LaFollette advising MPLX on the $2bn acquisition of various terminal, pipeline and storage assets from Marathon Petroluem. In the upstream sector, the highly recommended David Elder advised Sanchez Energy on its joint venture with The Blackstone Group to purchase 318,000 gross operated acres in the Western Eagle Ford. Named individuals are based in Houston.

Bracewell LLP is well known in the market for its oil and gas specialism, and in the last 12 months the team handled a number of multibillion-dollar midstream deals, including Washington DC-based Mark Lewis and Troy Harder acting for Pembina Pipeline on its $9.7bn acquisition of Veresen. In other highlights, highly rated practice head Alan Rafte and James McAnelly advised Castleton Commodities International on Tokyo Gas America’s investment in Castleton Resources. All named partners are based in Houston save where stated otherwise.

Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP’s Houston-based practice continued to be busy on a variety of M&A and capital markets deals; highly regarded practice head Michael O’Leary acted for the underwriters on Hess Midstream’s IPO, and Hal Haltom assisted Hilcorp Energy with its acquisition of oil and gas properties in Texas and Louisiana. The group saw a number of partner departures in 2017, including David Buck, Jon Daly, George Vlahakos and Bill Cooper, who joined Sidley Austin LLP. Charlie Ofner joined White & Case LLP in 2018.

King & Spalding LLP enjoyed further expansion in 2017, with eight new partner hires in Houston and New York. The practice particularly excels in the LNG space and in one major deal practice head Ken Culotta (‘an exceptional relationship manager’) and Jeffrey Malonson acted for Next Decade on its $1bn merger with Harmony Merger. Other noteworthy practitioners are Atlanta-based Keith Townsend, Archie Fallon and counsel Monica Hwang, who has ‘excellent international transactional experience’. All named lawyers are based in Houston save where stated otherwise.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s ‘top notch’ team continued to feature on major private equity deals, including the ‘really sharpAnthony Speier and John Pitts advising The Blackstone Group on its joint venture with Sanchez Energy to purchase 318,000 gross operated acres in the Western Eagle Ford. As well as handling numerous upstream M&A transactions in the Appalachia and Texas, the team was also busy in the capital markets space, with William Benitez assisting Sable Permian Resources with its $1bn recapitalization. Andrew Calder has ‘excellent judgement and is a great deal maker’, and David Castro is ‘a very smooth draftsman and negotiator’.

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Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP has particular expertise in financing transactions, with Houston-based practice head Robert Rabalais active on a range of debt facilities for clients such as JPMorgan Chase Bank and Eureka Midstream. The team is also regularly engaged on private equity deals; New York-based energy group chair David Lieberman and Houston-based Christopher May advised Alinda Capital on the $2.1bn sale of its oil terminal business to SemGroup Corporation. Other clients include Navigator Energy Services and Marathon Oil.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP’s New York office is regularly engaged on ‘board level’ international and domestic M&A and financings for midstream and downstream operators such as Tesoro and Transportadora de Gas. Recent work includes Joseph Frumkin and George Sampas advising Enbridge on its $43bn merger with Spectra Energy, and Inosi Nyatta and John Estes acting for Cheniere Energy on various billion-dollar bond offerings. Werner Ahlers and Christopher Mann were highly active for key client Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

The ‘depth of team is outstanding’ at Thompson & Knight LLP, where the practice advises on a high volume of shale play transactions; Ann Marie Cowdrey acted for Silver Hill Energy on its $2.4bn sale to RSP Permian. The team also handles offshore activities in the Gulf of Mexico, with energy group head Andrew Derman active in this regard for BHP Billiton. Partners named thus far are based in Dallas, but the practice also has numbers in Houston where practice head Richard Hemingway and group chair Hunter White are based.

At DLA Piper LLP (US), Houston-based co-chair Jack Langlois handles high-value M&A for clients such as Kayne Anderson and Terra Energy Partners. In New York, co-chair Robert Gruendel focuses on project development in Latin America.

Jones Day has ‘a knowledgeable and effective’ offering for upstream and midstream M&A and regularly acts for energy majors such as Total. ‘Phenomenal’ practice head Jeff Schlegel and Omar Samji advised DTE Energy Company on its $1.3bn acquisition of 100% of Appalachia Gathering System and 55% of Stonewall Gas Gathering. Other key lawyers in Houston are Stephen Olson and James Olson.

McGuireWoods LLP’s Pittsburgh office is a popular choice with operating companies and private equity for midstream and upstream M&A; co-chair Ryan Purpura assisted Rockdale Energy with its sale of midstream assets to UGI Energy Services. The practice is also strong in Richmond where co-chair Joanne Katsantonis services midstream players such as Dominion Energy.

Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP’s impressive cross-border expertise includes acting for energy majors on conventional oil and gas and LNG projects. The team is also active in the US market; Houston-based Deborah Gitomer advised Enbridge Energy on the $2bn acquisition of an interest in the Bakken pipeline system. Other key players in Houston are practice head John Mauel, Julie Mayo, and Jay Stiffler.

Oil and gas is a core practice area for Porter Hedges LLP and the team has a strong reputation for midstream and upstream M&A; co-chair Randy King and Jeremy Mouton advised Noble Energy on the $1.2bn divestiture of its upstream assets in northern West Virginia and southern Pennsylvania. Other recommended lawyers include co-chair Robert Thomas and Oklahoma City-based Ray Lees. All named lawyers are based in Houston save where stated otherwise.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP’s expertise in big-ticket M&A was once again in evidence with Houston-based practice head Frank Bayouth and Eric Otness advising Noble Energy on its $3.2bn acquisition of Clayton Williams Energy. In another stand-out matter, Cliff Gross was part of a combined Washington DC and New York team advising Spectra Energy on the tax aspects of its $37bn combination with Enbridge.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP’s practice is led from Dallas by Rodney Moore, who was active on a range of post-restructuring M&A mandates; he and Glenn West (also in Dallas) assisted WPX Energy with its $775m acquisition of oil and gas assets in the Delaware Basin. In New York, Jackie Cohen and Raymond Gietz lead on capital markets work and public M&A, and were active for clients such as York Capital Management and Riverstone Holdings.

White & Case LLP is ‘particularly good where there is a project finance element to deals’, and the team often features on international LNG projects. Other areas of expertise include M&A and insolvency; New York based co-chair Jason Webber acted for Global Infrastructure on its $1.8bn acquisition of Medallion Gathering & Processing. Clark Wohlferd (also in New York) is the other main contact.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP’s New York-based team handled a number of oilfield services M&A mandates, including James Langston advising Songa Offshore on its $3.4bn business combination with Transocean. In the upstream space, Ethan Klingsberg and Langston acted for Goldman Sachs on Clayton Williams Energy’s $2.7bn sale to Noble Energy. Other names to note include restructuring specialist Richard Cooper and Chantal Kordula, who is a key name in the Latin American market for clients such as ENAP.

Hogan Lovells US LLP’s team is now led by Houston-based midstream specialist Greg Hill, who joined from Locke Lord LLP; Hill advised American Midstream on its $2bn acquisition of JP Energy. The practice has a strong reputation in the LNG sector, where it acts for clients such as Venture Global LNG on financings and M&A. Other names to note include Denver-based Scot Anderson and Washington DC-based Keith Larson.

Mayer Brown regularly features on significant Latin American transactions for clients such as Ecopetrol, and the team is also experienced in advising power companies on the acquisition and financing of LNG terminals. Houston-based Thomas Moore heads the practice.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP remained highly active on financing and M&A for midstream ventures in Latin America, including Dean Sattler advising Borealis Infrastructure on its acquisition of a 34.6% stake in GNL Quintero. The team also handled pipeline financings in Texas and Oklahoma. Additional contacts in the New York- based practice are practice head Daniel Bartfeld, Jonathan Green and Eric Silverman.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP has a strong Latin America focus, with Houston-based Felipe Alice and Adrian Talamantes (a recent hire from King & Spalding LLP) highly active in this space; Talamantes advised EOG Resources on the sale of all of its upstream interests in Argentina. New York-based James Tynion heads the team.

At Paul Hastings LLP, the Houston-based team handles a high volume of finance matters for the likes of Royal Bank of Canada. Key figures include Paris Theofanidis and tax specialist Greg Nelson. Rick Burleson left the firm.

Reed Smith LLP developed its offering with a number of hires including Todd Culwell and Peggy Heeg, who joined the Houston office from legacy firm Andrews Kurth Kenyon LLP and Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP respectively, and Jonathan Cahn, who joined the Washington DC office from Dentons. The practice noted an uptick in M&A for midstream operators and private equity. Houston-based Gary Johnson and Craig Enochs and Pittsburgh-based Dwight Howes are additional contacts.

Shearman & Sterling LLP’s New York-based team excels in international project finance, and in one highlight Cynthia Urda Kassis acted for a syndicate of 19 commercial banks on the financing of the Gasoducto Sur Peruano project in Peru. The team also undertakes corporate and capital markets work for the likes of Petrobras. Gregory Tan and Robert Freedman are additional contacts.

Baker & Hostetler LLP impresses with its ‘excellent response times, and strong business and industry knowledge’. The team is particularly strong in the oilfield services sector, and in one recent deal the group advised Quintana Energy Services on the sale of oilfield services equipment to MG Bryan. Sameer Mohan joined Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in 2018.

Baker McKenzie LLP’s ‘exceptional attorneys’ can ‘deliver a difficult project on a tight schedule’. The team handles cross-border financing and upstream M&A, as well as supply of materials, transportation and storage agreements. Recommended lawyers in the Houston office include practice head Louis Davis, Natalie Regoli, and Denmon Sigler.

Key figures at Eversheds Sutherland include Houston-based Benjamin Clark, who regularly acts for oilfield services companies such as Schoeller Bleckmann America, and LNG specialist Ram Sunkara, who divides his time between Houston and Atlanta.

Greenberg Traurig LLP continued to be active on various significant LNG projects including Houston-based William Garner acting for Texas LNG on the financing of a proposed $1.4bn LNG export terminal in Brownsville, Texas. The team was also busy in the oilfield services and maritime services sub-sectors. Washington DC-based Kenneth Minesinger is the main contact following the departure of Douglas Atnipp to Winston & Strawn LLP.

From its New York office, Linklaters LLP regularly features on conventional oil and gas and LNG projects in Latin America; Conrado Tenaglia advised ENAP Sipetrol on the financing for the expansion of its offshore oil and gas exploration facilities off the coast of Argentina. Vijaya Palaniswamy heads the practice.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP enters the ranking on the back of the opening of its Houston office in January 2016. The new office acts for an impressive roster of energy clients, and in one highlight Joe Roger advised Statoil on the $407m disposal of its upstream oil and gas assets in the Marcellus basin. Blake H. Winburne, Jonathan Ayre and Brad Gathright are additional contacts.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP often assists with transactional matters arising from insolvency; Houston-based practice co-head Michael De Voe Piazza, who is ‘incredibly smart’, advised the Fulcrum Security holders on the sale of Samson Resources oil and gas assets through the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process. The practice is also noted for its strength in ‘middle-market transactions’. Practice co-head Bruce Herzog divides his time between Houston and New York. Cody Carper joined from Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

Winston & Strawn LLP’s Houston office is led by Craig Vogelsang, who advised various E&P companies on transportation agreements and M&A. Additional contacts in Houston include Chris Ferazzi, who acted for Apache Industrial Services on its sale to Quantum Capital. Justin Rawlins is a name to note in Los Angeles. The firm recently opened an office in Dallas.

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