Within Sutherland’s diverse Energy practice, the Liquefied Natural Gas Group is comprised of 22 lawyers and professionals, most of whom are fully dedicated to various aspects of the LNG practice. Chaired by Jacob Dweck since its inception in 1998, the Group has been involved in nearly every aspect of the LNG value chain. As the members of our team are extraordinarily business focused, we make the greatest contribution as an integral part of the client’s LNG business team.
Our LNG Group has provided legal counsel in connection with projects involving national oil companies (NOCs), international energy concerns, terminal regasification projects, transportation and marine businesses, U.S.-based power generators, gas utilities and industrial users. We have developed detailed familiarity with each existing LNG terminal and with most proposed terminals in the United States.
We have worked with every U.S. federal agency involved in LNG regulation and oversight, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Maritime Administration (MARAD) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). We also have familiarity with government agencies and local offices in many of the states affected by the growth in the LNG industry, including California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Texas and Virginia.
One of our projects, for example, involved the negotiation of a 20-year capacity contract for the entire 800,000 Dth/day expansion (6.8 Bcf of storage) at the Cove Point terminal, including physical facilities and capabilities, engineering and costs, vessel traffic, pipeline access projects, regulatory permitting processes and inter-shipper relations.
The background and expertise of our LNG Group extends to the following, each described further below:
- Siting of LNG import terminals;
- Project development of LNG regasification facilities;
- LNG permitting and regulatory compliance;
- Transactions involving LNG producers and suppliers;
- Contracting for LNG import terminal use;
- LNG transportation and marine matters;
- LNG terminal management and operation;
- Market access and related issues;
- LNG safety and security;
- LNG for power producers, utilities and industrial users; and
- LNG as part of energy counseling.
Siting of Import Terminals
Our LNG Group has counseled clients extensively regarding the range of siting issues, both onshore and offshore, and have closely evaluated siting considerations for each announced green-field, brown-field and expansion project in the United States. We have specifically analyzed key siting issues, including jurisdiction, proprietary access, safety and security, emergency response planning, marine traffic, environmental impacts, market access and gas quality and interchangeability.
Project Development of Regasification Facilities
Sutherland's LNG Group is extensively involved in project development. Our knowledge of the industry and its participants has allowed us to weigh effectively site proposals and to evaluate the strength of a project in comparison with others in the works. We are experienced in coordinating contracts, helping manage commercial and government relationships and guiding clients through the regulatory and permitting process affecting regasification facilities, marine traffic and downstream pipeline access.
Permitting and Regulatory Compliance
Our LNG Group is experienced in the processes before FERC and the U.S. Coast Guard required for the permitting of new terminal facilities and the expansion of existing ones. We have 40 years of experience in the FERC project certification process, and we have been closely involved in the consequences of the Hackberry "deregulation" on the economics of LNG terminals. Our LNG Group also has unique experience in obtaining U.S. Coast Guard plan approvals for vessel traffic to onshore facilities and has advised clients on environmental and coastal zone issues associated with proposed projects.
In addition, we have worked with the Department of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Interior Minerals Management Service (MMS), as well as with government agencies and local officials in California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Texas and Virginia.
Transactions Involving Producers and Suppliers
Sutherland's LNG Group has assisted clients in structuring transactions involving liquefaction facilities and the export of LNG cargos from around the world. We have negotiated multi-year LNG supply contracts from various origins, including Algeria, Norway, Trinidad and other sources. We also have counseled clients, including large industrial users, on issues relating to the direct purchase and importation of LNG.
Contracting for Import Terminal Use
Our LNG Group has extensive expertise in negotiating for import terminal capacity and use. We have successfully concluded detailed agreements for the construction and use of new terminal capacity, including physical facilities, engineering and costs and the range of facility services. We also have negotiated commercial transactions, including multi-shipper agreements with respect to a single terminal; the purchase and sale of existing capacity and services; and other commercial transactions, including terminal utilization.
Transportation and Marine Matters
Few firms are as well versed as our Group in LNG-associated marine issues, including commercial, environmental, regulatory, safety and security matters. We advise on international conventions, U.S. federal and state laws and port-specific rules. Our Group utilizes its extensive Coast Guard knowledge to provide comprehensive planning and advice to help minimize the risks associated with the movement of LNG cargos. We counsel concerning barge and vessel utilization, scheduling, navigation and tug services, and we help design comprehensive, tailored emergency response plans for LNG vessels, charters and cargo owners.
Terminal Management and Operation
Our LNG Group is intimately familiar with the business and regulatory necessities required to construct, reactivate, expand and operate an LNG regasification facility today. Our lawyers are leaders in structuring arrangements that address new business realities, and are experienced in providing counsel concerning the expanding web of relationships between facility owners, shippers, nearby commercial concerns, government officials and public groups.
Market Access and Related Issues
Sutherland's LNG Group advises clients on LNG and natural gas marketing strategies and the structure of their marketing ventures. Our Group assists with LNG and pipeline project developments, market access and integration, and related concerns such as storage and gas quality issues. We advise clients concerning market issues, regulatory implementation of market developments and regulatory compliance matters.
Safety and Security
Our LNG Group has worked extensively with officials responsible for safety and security in the post 9-11 environment. Our team provides comprehensive planning and advice to help minimize the risks associated with the movement of LNG cargos. Our team is uniquely experienced in emergency response planning for LNG vessels and terminals, and has examined consequence analyses on behalf of clients.
Power Producers, Utilities and Industrial Users
Our LNG Group has counseled U.S.-based power producers, gas utilities and/or industrial end-users with respect to LNG matters, including negotiations with LNG producers/suppliers. We have advised large consumers on the legal and commercial issues involving the formation of an LNG aggregator entity.
LNG as Part of Energy Counseling
Sutherland's LNG clients benefit from our long tradition of representing major players in the energy industry and natural gas sector. We have the breadth of experience to address nearly every business issue encountered in LNG transactions and activities. We cover the full range of LNG issues, including:
- Sales and Purchase Agreements (See materials under “Related Materials” tab);
- Siting of import terminals;
- Regas facilities project development;
- Asset Optimization (See materials under “Related Materials” tab);
- Transportation and marine;
- Terminal management and operations, including multi-user arrangements (See materials under “Related Materials” tab);
- Market access;
- Safety and security; and
- Power producers and end-users.
© 2013 Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP