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  1. Energy transactions: oil and gas
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With a formidable presence in the upstream and LNG sectors, Baker Botts L.L.P.’s practice is particularly strong in M&A, though it has longstanding experience in project finance and capital markets. Hugh Tucker in Houston and Steven Miles in Washington DC head the team, which is commended for its ‘very high level of industry knowledge’, ‘solid business judgment’ and ‘well-trained associates’. Thomas Holmberg, Carlos Solé and the ‘very strongJason Bennett advised Sempra International on LNG sales and gas supplies for its North American LNG liquefaction projects. Mike Bengtson acted for EQT on numerous land acquisitions worth $1bn in total. Dan Mark joined the Houston office in February 2017, from Norton Rose Fulbright US. Austin-based senior associate Coleson Bruce is recommended.

Steven Talley and Beau Stark are the key partners at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, whose practice is based across Denver and Dallas. Large-scale corporate M&A is its key strength: Talley advised The Williams Companies on its $37.7bn merger with Energy Transfer Equity, while Sean Royall and Adam Di Vincenzo secured merger approval. The team also handles capital markets and project finance; Robyn Zolman assisted Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company with a $1bn note offering. Other clients include WPX Energy, Atmos Energy, SemGroup and Luminant Holding. Since publication, Robert Nelson has joined in San Francisco from Shearman & Sterling LLP.

Latham & Watkins LLP’s upstream and midstream offerings are very impressive: Thomas Brandt and Ryan Maierson advised Warburg Pincus on a $910m investment in Terra Energy Partners for the latter’s purchase of WPX Energy Rocky Mountain, while David Kurzweil acted for Summit Midstream Partners in its $1.3bn acquisition of various companies, including Summit Utica and Meadowlark Midstream. Department head Michael Darden advised Anadarko Petroleum on its $2.2bn purchase of Freeport-McMoRan’s deep-water Gulf of Mexico assets. The team also assists clients with incorporating joint ventures. ‘Rising starStephen Szalkowski made partner in January 2016; Eugene Elrod joined the Washington DC office from Sidley Austin LLP in January 2017. All named attorneys are based in Houston unless otherwise stated.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP’s practice covers M&A, project finance and capital markets, and does ‘very, very good structured finance work’. Its upstream and midstream work is especially impressive: Joseph Frumkin and George Sampas acted for Columbia Pipeline Group in its $13bn acquisition by TransCanada, while John Estes and Washington DC-based Dennis Sullivan advised lenders including Crédit Agricole on a $500m loan to KKR for the latter’s purchase and leaseback of certain Pemex upstream assets. Named attorneys are based in New York except where indicated otherwise.

Vinson & Elkins LLP’s largely Houston-based practice is adept at ‘large, complex energy transactions’, particularly in the upstream space. Stephen Gill and Douglas McWilliams advised Memorial Resource Development on its $4.4bn merger with Range Resources, while Keith Fullenweider and Creighton Smith acted for Vantage Energy in its $2.7bn purchase by Rice Energy. As well as M&A, the team handles project finance: Fullenweider and John Connally, who head the group along with James Cuclis, assisted Quantum Energy Partners with a $1bn equity investment in LINN Energy to finance future oil and gas acquisitions and developments.

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Christine LaFollette and Douglas Glass head Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP’s practice, which is especially strong in M&A but also handles capital markets work. The team advised EP Energy on the $420m sale of its Haynesville and Bossier shale assets to Covey Park Gas, and John Goodgame acted for EOG Resources in a $1bn note issuance and public offering. All named attorneys are based in Houston. Since publication, Steven Otillar has moved to White & Case LLP.

Highly active across the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors, Bracewell LLP’s practice is particularly strong in M&A, though it also handles project finance. Alan Rafte and James McAnelly head the group; Rafte and Roxanne Almaraz acted for Alinda Capital Partners and its co-seller in their $1.9bn sale of SourceGas Holdings to Black Hills, while McAnelly advised Tall City Exploration on its $803m sale of its upstream assets to Moss Creek Resources. Rafte and Thomas Tomlinson assisted ArcLight Capital Partners with its purchase and the associated financing of the Trans-Union Pipeline from Entegra Power Group. All named attorneys are based in Houston.

Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP’s practice is particularly active in M&A and commercial contracts, from upstream to downstream. George Vlahakos advised G2X Energy on its acquisition of a 50% stake in Natgasoline, which is set to be the US’ largest methanol production facility. Other clients include Anadarko Petroleum and FourPoint Energy. Michael O’Leary and Timothy Unger head the department. All named attorneys are based in Houston.

The ‘outstanding’ Houston-based team at King & Spalding LLP is led by the ‘quick, efficientKen Culotta, whose ‘deep industry experience’ is good value for money. Though its upstream and pipeline work is excellent, LNG is where the team truly shines: Kathryn Marietta advised ConocoPhillips Alaska on all aspects, including gas supply and LNG marketing, of its enormous Alaska LNG project. ‘Successful negotiator’ Archie Fallon made partner in January 2016, Jeffrey Malonson arrived from Vinson & Elkins LLP in July 2016, and David Runnels joined from Andrews Kurth Kenyon LLP in February 2017. Daniel Rogers is highly recommended.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s ‘extremely impressive’ Houston-based team, which frequently handles ‘large, complex’ M&A and joint-venture formation but also covers project finance, has ‘excellent industry knowledge’. David Castro and the ‘quick-on-his-feetAnthony Speier advised Seneca Resources on its joint development agreement with IOG CRV-Marcellus to develop Marcellus Shale gas assets in Pennsylvania. The department saw numerous changes in 2016: Adam Larson joined from Vinson & Elkins LLP and Doug Bacon arrived from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, while Rahul Vashi and Bradford Rossi made partner. William Benitez is recommended.

M&A is Sidley Austin LLP’s team’s key strength. Upstream, it acted for Range Resources in its $4.4bn purchase of Memorial Resource Development. In the midstream space, Cliff Vrielink advised Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners on $2.3bn-worth of investments in publically traded pipeline companies. US Oil & Refining is a downstream client. Kenneth Irvin in Washington DC, James Rice in Houston and Irving Rotter in New York are also recommended. Since publication David Asmus and Brian Bradshaw have joined in Houston from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.

Robert Rabalais leads Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP’s largely Houston-based team, with support from M&A expert Christopher May, project finance ‘star’ Matthew Einbinder and New York-based restructuring specialist Elisha Graff. On the M&A side, midstream work and joint ventures are particular strengths; David Lieberman in New York advised Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners on its joint venture with Golar LNG. When it comes to finance, the team excels in reserve-based lending and acquisition finance, especially for lenders; JPMorgan Chase Bank is a client.

Thompson & Knight LLP’s ‘outstanding team’ provides ‘a very high level of service’ and has ‘many years of oil and gas experience’. Upstream M&A is a key strength and Sarah McLean, who splits her time between Austin and Houston, acted for EnCap Investments in various acreage and portfolio company acquisitions and disposals, together worth $4.8bn. Other clients include Yates Petroleum and EnerVest. Dallas-based Andrew Derman and Houston-based Richard Hemingway and Hunter White are also recommended; Dallas-based Andrew Melsheimer has ‘excellent knowledge’.

M&A and energy trading are the key areas for DLA Piper LLP (US), whose largely Houston-based practice is led by Jack Langlois and, in New York, Robert Gruendel. As well as advising clients such as Kayne Anderson and Terra Energy Partners on domestic matters, the department has a strong Latin America practice: Gruendel assisted Ecopetrol Costa Afuera Colombia SAS with designing an offshore drilling services contract.

Jones Day handles large-scale M&A upstream, midstream and downstream; it is also active in restructuring. Jeffrey Schlegel, who heads the group from Houston, advised The Southern Company on its purchase from Kinder Morgan of a 50% stake in the entity that owns the 7,000-mile Southern Natural Gas pipeline system. Other clients include Kel-Tech, DTE Energy and Marathon Petroleum. Dickson Chin in New York and Houston-based Stephen Olson and Omar Samji are also recommended.

Strong in M&A and mid-market private equity, McGuireWoods LLP also handles fund formation and is active in the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors. Joanne Katsantonisand Ryan Purpura head the practice from Richmond and Pittsburgh respectively; Katsantonis acted for Dominion Resources in its $4.4bn acquisition of Questar, while Purpura advised Consol Energy on its sale of Ohio gas-gathering facilities to Rice Olympus Midstream.

As well as being active in project development, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP assists clients with upstream and midstream M&A, EPC contracts, LNG export deals and tolling agreements. LNG is a particular strength and the team has strong cross-border capabilities. Recent work includes acting for Equatorial Guinea LNG Holdings in various contracts and corporate structuring issues regarding an LNG project. Since publication, former practice head David Asmus and fellow Houston-based partner Brian Bradshaw have joined Sidley Austin LLP.

Although historically strong upstream, Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP’s practice is increasingly active in the midstream and LNG spaces; Tesoro Logistics is a notable midstream client. The firm has been handling asset acquisitions and disposals, corporate M&A, joint ventures and project development, and recent work includes advising Delek US Holdings on its purchase of Alon USA Energy. John Mauel heads the department; Jay Stiffler made partner in January 2016. In June 2016, following publication, the firm combined with Chadbourne & Parke LLP, adding significant additional expertise in LNG, particularly on the lender side. Noam Ayali, who heads the incoming team alongside Rohit Chaudhry and New York-based Benjamin Koenigsberg, acted for numerous lenders in extending $2.8bn-worth of credit facilities to Cheniere Energy Partners to refinance the Sabine Pass LNG terminal. Peter Fitzgerald advised the lenders on the financing of the $1bn Costa Norte LNG-to-power project in Panama. Brian Greene made partner in November 2016. Mauel and Stiffler are based in Houston, while Ayali, Chaudhry, Fitzgerald and Greene are based in Washington DC.

Paul Hastings LLP’s team is most active in project finance and acquisition finance. It has handled strong domestic work for clients including Tall Oak Midstream, JPMorgan Chase Bank and Morgan Stanley Senior Funding, but its Latin America practice is especially strong. New York’s Cathleen McLaughlin acted for Hidroeléctrica Huanchor as borrower regarding a $274m loan for the DBFMO aspects of the 20MW Central Hidroeléctrica Rucuy power plant in Peru.

Porter Hedges LLP’s department is led from Houston by Robert Thomas and Randy King; its calling card is complex upstream asset transactions. James Thompson, who joined from Watt Thompson Frank & Carver LLP in March 2016, advised Black Stone Minerals on its $35m purchase of a stake in the Wattenberg Gas Field in Weld County, Colorado. The ‘extremely knowledgeable’ Oklahoma-based Ray Lees acted for Scoop Energy in its $137m sale to Jones Energy of 18,000 acres in Canada and Oklahoma. Jeremy Mouton is also recommended.

Project finance and capital markets are the key pillars of Shearman & Sterling LLP’s practice. Cynthia Urda Kassis acted for a 19-bank syndicate in the $4.1bn financing of the Gasoducto Sur Peruano project; sponsor-side clients include Empresa Nacional del Petroléo. The department also handles M&A: it advised General Electric on the $32bn merger of its oil and gas business with Baker Hughes. Robert Freedman, Waajid Siddiqui, Gregory Tan and Alexandro Padrés are other names to note. Named attorneys are based in New York. Since publication, Robert Nelson has moved to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

M&A and restructuring are the key activities of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP’s department, which is particularly active in the upstream space. The team handles plenty of midstream work too: Dallas-based group head Rodney Moore acted for EnLink Midstream Partners and EnLink Midstream in their $1.6bn acquisition of subsidiaries of Tall Oak Midstream.

Jason Webber and Clark Wohlferd head White & Case LLP’s department from New York; the team is strongest in project finance, though it also handles joint venture incorporations and assists the financial advisers to M&A players. Webber advised the potential lenders to Magnolia LNG regarding the latter’s liquefaction and export terminal project in Louisiana. Other clients include Saudi Aramco and Freeport LNG. Since publication, Steven Otillar has joined from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.

Upstream and midstream are the key sectors for Baker McKenzie LLP, which is especially active in asset acquisitions and disposals, although it also handles corporate restructuring. Its clients include Mexico Petroleum and White Marlin Oil and Gas. Louis Davis heads the Houston-based group, with support from Denmon Sigler, who joined in July 2016 from Winston & Strawn LLP, and Natalie Regoli.

The ‘superb attorneys’ at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLPreally understand the oil and gas business, and add considerable value’. The practice, which is especially strong in capital markets, project finance and financial restructuring, assisted Petróleos Mexicanos with over $6.25bn in debt offerings; other clients include Pluspetrol and Petrobras. Richard Cooper, Adam Brenneman, the ‘extremely reliable’ Jeffrey Lewis and ‘excellent corporate finance coordinator’ Francesca Odell are also recommended. All named attorneys are based in New York.

Clifford Chance’s ‘outstanding’ Washington DC-based practice has ‘superior knowledge’ and a key strength is cross-border project finance. Fabricio Longhin assisted Graña y Montero with obtaining a $200m loan from Credit Suisse to finance the $4.2bn Gasoducto Sur Peruano project; David Evans advised Samchully Asset Management on the partial acquisition from Total and CGAS Properties of a gas-gathering system in Ohio.

Dentons is especially active in asset purchases and sales, energy supply contracts, and project construction and operation. The team acted for Hawkins Avary Hillmer in its $45m sale of West Texas ranch property, including oil and gas production rights. Kuwait Oil is another client. Clinton Vince heads the practice from Washington DC.

The team at Greenberg Traurig LLP is headed by Kenneth Minesinger in Washington DC, and is especially strong in the finance space. William Garner is also recommended. Alfredo Ramos joined the Houston office from Gardere Wynne Sewell in October 2016. Since publication, Houston-based Douglas Atnipp has moved to Winston & Strawn LLP.

Michael Zanic in Pittsburgh and Randel Young in Houston head K&L Gates’ group, which is especially busy in the upstream space, including M&A, production sharing, project finance and joint ventures. The team advised City of Anchorage Municipal Light & Power on its $152m purchase of the Beluga River Unit from ConocoPhillips Alaska. Other clients include Buckingham Oil Interests, Otto Energy and Doyon.

Linklaters LLP’ department is led by New York-based Vijaya Palaniswamy, who, along with Peter Cohen-Millstein, advised Petrochemical Industries on its $3.2bn sale of MEGlobal, co-owned by Dow Chemical, to Equate Petrochemical. The team is also strong in project finance: Conrado Tenaglia, who splits his time between New York and Sao Paulo, assisted Axion Energy Argentina with obtaining a $300m loan from lenders, including Citibank, to expand its Campana refinery, among other things. Other clients include Empresa Nacional de Petróleo.

Mayer Brown’s practice, which has excellent Latin America capabilities, is especially strong in M&A, capital markets and commercial contracts. Chicago-based Marc Sperber advised TransCanada on its $13bn purchase of Columbia Pipeline Group. Christopher Erckert, who splits his time between Washington DC and New York, and Houston-based department head Thomas Moore acted for Invenergy in its acquisition of a majority stake in the $900m Energía del Pacífico project in El Salvador.

Daniel Bartfeld, Daniel Michalchuk and Roland Estevez, who are all based in New York, are the key partners at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP. Project finance, particularly in the midstream space, is the department’s calling card: Bartfeld advised lead arrangers including ING and BNP Paribas on the $622m financing of the La Laguna-Aguascalientes pipeline. The team also assisted clients including Nabors Industries with upstream joint ventures.

Although its most notable strengths are energy trading and energy supply agreements, Reed Smith LLP’s practice also has M&A and project finance capabilities. Clients include ConocoPhillips, Columbia Pipeline Group and Castleton Commodities Upstream. Nicolle Snyder Bagnell and Craig Enochs head the department from Pittsburgh and Houston respectively; finance and commodities expert Matthew Petrillo made partner in Chicago in January 2016.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP has strong experience in big-ticket M&A and capital markets, frequently handles large-scale restructurings, and often acts for financial advisers to strategic players. Houston-based department head Frank Bayouth acted for Devon Energy in an $850m note offering, while Washington DC’s Jeremy London advised Goldman Sachs as financial adviser to Columbia Pipeline Group on the latter’s $13bn acquisition by TransCanada.

Winston & Strawn LLP handles asset acquisitions and disposals, corporate M&A, project finance and restructuring. Chris Ferazzi in Houston advised Continuum Energy on the $78m sale of its retail natural gas business to CenterPoint Energy Services, and New York-based Jonathan Birenbaum acted for Babson Capital Management in its purchase of $35m-worth of notes issued by Trans-Union Interstate Pipeline. Houston-based Craig Vogelsang leads the oil and gas group. Since publication, Douglas Atnipp has joined in Houston from Greenberg Traurig LLP.

Benjamin Clark and Ram Sunkara head Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP’s department, which is particularly strong in asset acquisitions and disposals, although it also has an excellent track record in energy supply, energy trading, EPC contracts and joint venture formation. Clark advised Schoeller Bleckmann America on its $103m purchase of a 68% stake in Downhole Technology from numerous sellers. Other clients include Magnolia LNG, Freepoint Commodities and Mosbacher Energy.

The Denver-based Scot Anderson heads the team at Hogan Lovells US LLP, which has considerable cross-border experience as well as upstream, midstream and downstream capabilities. The Houston-based José Luis Vittor is recommended, as is Washington DC-based midstream expert Stefan Krantz.

Private equity specialist Bruce Herzog and oil and gas transactions expert Michael de Voe Piazza head Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP’s department from Houston and New York respectively. Both partners assisted Liberty Oilfield Services with its purchase of Sanjel’s fracturing, coiled tubing and cementing assets. Other clients include Sage Midstream Ventures and Carnelian Energy Capital.

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