Industry focus: Energy in Belgium
Allen & Overy LLP
Allen & Overy LLP's multidisciplinary approach to transactional and regulatory matters across the energy sector benefits clients ranging from offshore wind farm operators to international corporates pursuing renewable project investments. Antwerp-based practice head Tom Schoors is particularly well known for his assistance in non-contentious matters, but also handles disputes alongside Brussels-based Joost Everaert, who specialises in litigation concerning energy supply and suppliers. Other key matters include the impending Belgian nuclear sector shutdown, power plant constructions and tariff management, as well as advising on emission allowances and subsidies.
Other key lawyers:
- Advising various offshore wind farm operators on the operation and exploitation of their wind farms, including regulatory issues, force majeure issues and liability disputes.
- Advising various major international corporates on their investments in renewable energy projects (including offshore, onshore and geothermal energy).
Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick's practice provides 'well-developed explanations and advice' on electricity market regulatory matters and a wide range of power project development work, with an increasing focus on the renewables sector. Clients recognise Damien Verhoeven as 'one of the top energy lawyers in Belgium', and he heads a team of 'highly skilled' practitioners including public law specialist François Tulkens and commercial contracts expert Olivier Vanden Berghe. Recent notable work includes assisting Elia with the potential implementation of scarcity pricing to reflect supply costs, taking into account EU grid codes and regulations.
Other key lawyers:
François Tulkens; Olivier Vanden Berghe
‘Efficient and reliable advice in the right timeframes.’
‘Good understanding of our needs and requests. Well-developed explanations and advice.’
‘Damien Verhoeven is one of the top energy lawyers in Belgium; not only does he know everything, he also has a clear view on everything. He has been focusing on this area since the liberalisation of the energy market started. Having regard to the ever-growing complexity of European, federal and regional regulation, such a background is key to understanding it and still making it work. We also appreciate his team of highly skilled lawyers, which he promotes a lot.’
- Assisting GML with the development of a 140MW hydropower plant on the Lualaba River in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Assisting Engie Electrabel in the context of the revision of nuclear tax.
- Assisting Lampiris with signing a 15-year PPA covering all the offtake of the Rentel 309MW offshore wind farm.
Loyens & Loeff's 'customer satisfaction-driven, committed and knowledgeable' energy team focuses on renewable projects – particularly following the EU's Winter Package guidelines – as well as new regulatory developments and M&A-related cases. 'Communicative and hands-on partner' Thomas Chellingsworth heads the practice and is 'a true expert', particularly in the regulatory aspects of offshore wind financings. Other recent matters handled by the practice involve power purchase agreements, financing due diligence and contractual force majeure crises following the Covid-19 pandemic. Associates Christine Delagaye and Bram Devlies are also recognised as 'a great asset' and 'an excellent energy contract negotiator', respectively.
Other key lawyers:
Christine Delagaye; Bram Devlies
‘Very customer satisfaction-driven, committed, knowledgeable and integrated team. Very pleasant to work with and very good value for money.’
‘Thomas Chellingsworth is a very communicative and hands-on partner with vast experience in, and knowledge about, the energy sector and a business-oriented approach in his advice.’
‘Thomas Chellingsworth is a true expert.’
‘Christine Delagaye is a great asset to the team. She is technically excellent and provides clear, commercial advice.’
‘Bram Devlies is an excellent energy contract negotiator, with very up-to-date regulatory knowledge. He is a key name for power purchase agreements, onshore renewable energy projects and advice on renewable energy certificates.’
‘A lot of specialised knowledge in a wide range of disciplines: for every different question, there is a specialised lawyer.’
‘Professional, correct, thorough research, a lot of knowledge and the ability to apply this knowledge to specific cases. Thomas Chellingsworth and Christine Delagaye are open to consultation, easy to reach and strategically strong.’
‘Strong reputation in the area of project finance, in particular offshore wind farms financing and the regulatory aspects.’
International Car Operators
Interconnector (UK) Limited
- Advised Norther with respect to the successful completion and refinancing of its 370MW offshore wind farm.
- Advised AG Insurance, Heylen Warehouses and Belfius on the development of an 18MW roof-mounted solar energy installation in Venlo, the Netherlands.
- Advised the Flemish public waste agency OVAM on the EU state aid law aspects of a proposed energy efficiency discount for a levy on waste treatment processes.
Clifford Chance's team is 'easy to work with, solution-oriented and provides pragmatic solutions' on corporate and M&A transactions, restructurings and new infrastructure-related matters in the energy sector. Practice head Xavier Remy enjoys a reputation for 'solving the most complex and sensitive' problems in this field, having recently advised Eneco on its €4.1bn privatisation, as well as its entry into the Seastar and Mermaid offshore wind farms. Senior associate and 'up-and-coming talent' Patrice Viaene is 'a hidden gem', currently assisting ThyssenKrupp with its bid to construct the first industrial gas installation converting renewable electricity into green hydrogen.
Other key lawyers:
‘This team is easy to work with, solution-oriented and provides you with pragmatic solutions for complex problems.’
‘Xavier Remy stands out for his seniority and wisdom in tackling and solving the most complex and sensitive matters in the corporate and energy fields. Patrice Viaene, as an up-and-coming talent, stands out for his bright and pragmatic solutions and for speaking a language that is aligned with his clients. Patrice is a truly talented lawyer who awaits a great career – he is a hidden gem.’
‘Their understanding of my business and solution orientation, their speed of execution and the quality of the work delivered was of great value to my company.’
‘Patrice Viaene clearly understood my business, and had a business mindset and balanced approach in negotiations.’
‘Patrice Viaene was the perfect match between excellent professional expertise and a very reliable person.’
‘The team is very professional and is an important asset for us. They are open to new ideas and are willing to find innovative solutions for complex problems.’
‘Individuals are available when we need them, are solution-oriented and are team workers. Their knowledge is highly important to finding solutions for our complex problems.’
‘Clifford Chance is hands-on and business-oriented, with excellent knowledge of the market and its practices, able to come to pragmatic solutions even in complex cases but covering all the essential bases, plus excellent availability. In short, a very trustworthy, reliable partner in complex cases.’
Mitsubishi Corporation/Chubu Electric Power
- Advising the consortium between Mitsubishi Corporation and Chubu Electric Power on the Belgian aspects of their €4.1bn acquisition of Eneco.
- Advising Publi-T, Elia’s controlling shareholder, on Elia’s capital increase and restructuring, as well as assisting the joint lead managers on an €800m bond issue for Elia, under its new €3bn EMTN programme.
- Advising ThyssenKrupp on its bid to construct a pioneering green hydrogen plant in Belgium on an industrial scale for a consortium between Eoly (part of the Colruyt Group), Parkwind and Fluxys.
DLA Piper's energy practice is equally adept at handling both regulatory and transactional matters, which include contracts, M&A or refinancings, as well as the settlement of energy disputes. Public procurement specialist Bob Martens and on- and off-shore wind sector expert Annelies Verlinden co-head a multidisciplinary team recognised by clients for its 'in-depth market knowledge'. Johan Mouraux advises on project finance mandates, while Orestis Omran – who made partner in May 2020 and is 'distinguished for his intelligence, commitment, business intuition and responsiveness' – boasts extensive EU-oriented experience. Counsel Alec Van Vaerenbergh is another name of note.
Bob Martens; Annelies Verlinden
Other key lawyers:
Johan Mouraux; Orestis Omran; Alec Van Vaerenbergh
‘In-depth market knowledge.’
‘DLA Piper Brussels’ energy practice consists of high-level professionals with noteworthy experience. What makes this team unique is the perfect combination of EU competition expertise, with deep knowledge of the regulatory issues and the particularities of the energy sector. We have mostly worked with Orestis Omran and his team, and were impressed not only by their high-quality performance, but also by their remarkable responsiveness.’
‘We have worked mostly with Orestis Omran, a rising star in the fields of Energy and EU law, being involved in strategic energy deals across Europe and also in the energy transition plan in Greece. His professional credentials and his broad experience (despite his really young age) render him indispensable in terms of the provision of legal advice in the energy sector.’
‘Throughout our collaboration with DLA Piper, we had the unique chance to work with Orestis Omran, a leading professional and prominent expert in the fields of energy and EU law, providing us with outstanding legal advice in the most reliable and responsive manner. His deep knowledge and expertise is superb, while at the same time he perfectly understands the business concerns of the sector, a quality which is not frequently encountered with respect to such a specific market. Orestis is a high-end expert lawyer, distinguished for his intelligence, commitment, business intuition and responsiveness. I have heard people in the industry referring to him as “the Michael Jordan of law”, and I cannot agree more on that.’
‘Orestis Omran and his team are a perfect match of outstanding legal background and working ethics. They are significantly skilled in EU competition and regulatory issues in the field of the energy practice, having both European and Greek expertise. Orestis has remarkable expertise in key energy deals and transactions, being the best in state aid and antitrust proceedings. What is also much appreciated is their time efficiency.’
‘Orestis Omran has always provided us with the confidence that our cases were handled by the best lawyer in the field of EU and energy practice. Orestis has stellar track record in matters related to the electricity markets and relevant antitrust and state aid issues. He is definitely one of the rising stars in the sector, whose advice is regularly sought when deals of strategic importance arise, requiring advice at the interchange of energy and competition law.’
‘The team at DLA Piper is top-notch. They are very knowledgeable on EU energy matters, hands-on and very efficient. I love their communication skills and commercial mindset that is always helpful when dealing with the challenges of the energy markets. They certainly outweigh peer international firms because of the strength of their global platform, their transactional and regulatory experience on international matters and their unique understanding of the upstream, midstream and downstream segments of the market.’
‘We work mostly with partner Orestis Omran who is an absolute star. He has vast experience on EU energy regulatory matters and leads transactions between energy companies and/or governments in south-eastern Europe. He has a deep knowledge of the energy markets and understands the business probably better than any other energy lawyer in Brussels.‘
‘Alec Van Vaerenbergh is an experienced lawyer who helped us with complex negotiations relating to renewable energy production and sales. Matthias Stinissen is a junior lawyer who was a valuable support during complex negotiations related to the realisation of a wind farm.‘
DEME Group (including DEME Offshore)
Fluvius System Operator
Hellenic Ministry of Environment and Energy
Public Power Corporation
European Commission (DG Climate Action)
Belgian Eco Energy (BEE)
Total Gas & Power
Eurogas (EU-wide gas supplier industry association)
Hyosung Heavy Industry Corporation
City of Antwerp
VLEEMO group (incl. Wind aan de Stroom, Polder Investeringsfonds)
Kuwait Petroleum (Q8)
IGI gas pipeline
IGB Poseidon gas pipeline
Bonobo Conservation International
- Assisting Fluvius in legally structuring its new district heating business through the development of standard contract templates, providing training and reviewing contracts under negotiation.
- Advising the Hellenic Ministry of Environment and Energy on negotiations with EU institutions on the remedies in antitrust case on Greek lignite and electricity markets initiated by the European Commission.
- Representing the sponsors in the approx. €100m greenfield biomass waste wood to power and heat plant in the Port of Ghent, one of the few biomass energy projects in Belgium.
Fieldfisher's recent energy work covers advising clients on various EU and clean energy frameworks, corporate power purchase agreements, construction projects and M&A. Practice head David Haverbeke specialises in contractual and commercial matters, while continuing to assist Axpo with offshore wind developments alongside its expansion of LNG trading activities. Wouter Vandorpe is the other key name to note on large cross-border projects – often electricity exchange-related – or in due diligence and negotiations with regulators. The team also offers regulatory advice to solar developers and new investors.
Other key lawyers:
- Advising Centrica on its flexibility services for both regulatory and contractual matters, including its relationships with the relevant energy regulatory authorities at European and national level.
- Advising Axpo through its various subsidiaries on regulatory and contractual matters pertaining to components of the energy market.
- Acting for Essent in various courts in relation to free circulation of energy green certificates and to support measures in the Flemish Region.
At Stibbe, the energy department splits its time between M&A, project financing and new developments, and litigation. Practice head Frederik Vandendriessche additionally focuses on regulatory mandates, while real estate lawyer Rony Vermeersch advises on renewable energy projects and contracts. Senior associate Cedric Degreef is also noted for commercial and regulatory matters, with a particular specialism in electricity, natural gas and geothermal sourcing. Clients note that Vandendriessche and Degreef offer a 'unique combination of public procurement, public and energy law backgrounds, with strong contract drafting skills'.
Other key lawyers:
Romy Vermeersch; Cedric Degreef
‘Frederik Vandendriessche and Cedric Degreef offer the unique combination of public procurement, public and energy law backgrounds, with strong contract drafting skills. Moreover, thanks to their long involvement in the energy world, they have the capacity to make strong risk assessments. That makes them the ideal partners.’
‘Good industry knowledge.’
Arcelor Mittal Energy
BNP Paribas Fortis
European Federation of Energy Traders (EFET)
Elia System Operator
I4B (the Belgian Infrastructure Fund)
LRM (incl. Floating PV and Terhills)
- Acting as transaction counsel to Limburgse Reconversiemaatschappij on the construction of two solar farms, one ground-based and one floating.
- Assisting with the development of the MARI and PICASSO support services platforms for all European TSOs.
- Assisting with setting up the first Belgian electricity receivables securitisation transaction for the purposes of refinancing the green certificates debt by Elia.
Brussels-based boutique Blixt handles European and domestically oriented energy work, with a notable market reputation for its regulatory advice. Practice head Tim Vermier specialises in distribution systems, pipelines and matters concerning public grid operators and governmental departments. Climate and environmental expert Julie Vanhoenacker is another name of note.
Other key lawyers:
The 'proactive and responsive' multidisciplinary offering at Deloitte (rebranded from Laga) typically advises local governments, domestic transmission and distribution system operators, and renewable energy project developers on regulatory, transactional and M&A matters. Public sector and contracts specialist Kathleen De hornois heads the team, while senior associate Dominique Vanherck is also recognised as 'a good project manager' on cases concerning new development permits – particularly for electricity lines.
Kathleen De hornois
Other key lawyers:
‘A solution-provider. You notice the strength of having all knowledge under one rooftop.‘
‘The team is proven to have very good sector knowledge, being proactive and responsive with a multidisciplinary service offering.‘
‘A clear way of working. I mainly work together with Dominique Vanherck and she always wants to understand the goals of the action very well. And afterwards we always get what we ask. There is really a lot of knowledge present. Also the information is very well communicated internally, so that you don’t get the same questions over and over.‘
‘Senior associate Dominique Vanherck is a good project manager. She is on top of things.‘
Jan De Nul
Gore Street Energy Storage Fund PLC
- Advising Elia in the context of a unique blockchain project, in partnership with over 100 major energy companies.
- Advising VLAIO (the Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship) on a context analysis and roadmap study for developing the technological innovations required for a carbon-smart climate transition in the Flemish Region by 2050.
- Advising Gore Street Energy Storage Fund PLC on its investment in Energy Storage, the project vehicle of Belgium’s largest battery park.
The integrated energy and utilities sector practice at NautaDutilh handles regulatory issues and corporate transactions – most notably, renewables project financing – as well as contracts-related litigation for clients ranging from energy producers and suppliers to industrial customers and government agencies. Department head and senior counsel Patrick Peeters specialises in electricity and gas legislation, while corporate and financing experts Nicolas de Crombrugghe and Thibaut Willems complete the core team.
Other key lawyers:
Nicolas de Crombrugghe; Thibaut Willems
- Assisting Engie Electrabel with questions regarding the capacity remuneration mechanism in the framework of the acquisition of the Vilvoorde site and gas-fired power plant.
- Assisting FEBEG, the Belgian Federation of Electricity and Gas Companies, in two procedures before the Constitutional Court, in which the Flemish Decree transposing the Fourth Electricity Directive is undergoing constitutional review.
- Acting as transactional counsel for the renewable energy activity consolidation of Colruyt Group and Korys in a new company, Virya Energy, which acquired the majority stakes held in Parkwind and Eurowatt for approximately €701m.
At Philippe & Partners, the multidisciplinary energy department has recognised expertise in commercial, contractual and liability matters, particularly during criminal investigations and construction-oriented claims. Its client roster comprises well-known domestic energy suppliers in the electricity, gas and oil sectors, along with producers, distributors and regulators. Name partner Denis Philippe is the key contact and heads a team including power specialist and of counsel Pierre Bernard, as well as counsel and disputes expert Tom Van Noyen.
Other key lawyers:
Pierre Bernard; Tom Van Noyen
- Assisting Electrabel during criminal proceedings following the sabotage of a nuclear power plant in 2014.
- Assisting Electrabel in a claim against a distribution system operator which failed to fulfil its legal obligations due to IT system issues.
- Assisting the Brussels region in the transposition of European directives following the Clean Energy Package and on the modification of regulations relating to the energy market organisations.