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Oil & Gas

Overview

Webber Wentzel has developed one of the strongest oil and gas teams in southern Africa. We provide creative, flexible, market-leading and cost-effective solutions for our clients and the projects in which they are involved, across the petroleum value chain.

Our lawyers have significant experience in the development and financing of oil and gas projects in the region and other parts of the world. This experience includes:

  • executing numerous farm-ins and farm-outs and acquisitions both onshore and offshore across the region;
  • recent conventional upstream oil and gas financings;
  • unconventional gas project developments in Botswana and South Africa; and
  • assisting with the development and financing of downstream petroleum supplied industries, including refineries, gas-fired power, fertilisers, bio-fuels and gas-to-liquids.

From a regulatory perspective we have advised a number of oil and gas producers on the AIPN model agreements; the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative; the investment law implications of legislation and model agreements and in relation to the laws and regulations applicable to the industry across the region.

Our Oil & Gas Sector Group regularly represents sponsors, governments and lenders in all aspects of the concession arrangements, project development and the financing of such projects.

Our collaborative alliance with Linklaters provides clients access to Linklaters’ extensive global experience in oil and gas transactions; an understanding of comparative best practices in Africa and elsewhere in the world; access to market-leading Francophone and Lusophone Africa expertise; and the ability to execute international financings. Our network of best friend law firms and our association with ALN provides clients with on the ground expertise in getting projects done in the region.


 

FINANCE

John Smelcer has international experience and an in-depth understanding of all aspects of oil and gas project financing and development.

John is a director of Webber Wentzel and heads the firm's Oil & Gas Sector Group.

He represents sponsors, governments and lenders in all aspects of project development and financing in the oil and gas sector. Examples of projects he has worked on include the financing of unconventional upstream gas developments; a refinery in South Sudan; large-scale liquefied natural gas projects in west and southern Africa, Australia, Papua New Guinea and Qatar; and oil forward sale structures in Egypt and Nigeria.

John regularly leads government training workshops on the legal and structuring aspects of project financings and his expertise in Africa-related projects has been recognized by Chambers Global.

He is a member of the New York Bar and American Bar Association and holds a Juris Doctor of Law from the University of Washington in the US as well as a public policy degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

E&P AND OPERATIONS

Kenny Paton provides international industry experience and operational side expertise.

Kenny is a director of Webber Wentzel and head of African E&P for the Oil & Gas Sector Group.

Kenny joins Webber Wentzel from Bond Dickinson in Aberdeen where he was an equity partner and a leader of the Oil & Gas Practice.

Kenny has extensive experience, both in-house and in private practice, advising major and independent companies on all aspects of projects in the oil and gas sector worldwide. He has over 13 years' experience specialising in international oil and gas transactions and has worked on both upstream and midstream projects with a particular specialism in development projects, transportation work and gas contracts.

Kenny’s in-house experience includes working as group general counsel at FTSE 250 oil services company Expro Group, over a years' secondment at Total and a prolonged period in China representing CNOOC and BP on the Guangdong LNG Import Project.

Kenny has also advised many international independent oil and gas companies on a wide variety of transactions in Africa including acquisitions and farm-in opportunities.

His expertise has been recognised by Chambers Global (Energy & Natural Resources: Oil & Gas), which refers to Kenny is a "leader in his field” and Legal 500 (Projects, Energy & Natural Resources: Oil & Gas, Scotland).

Kenny is dual qualified (English and Scots law).

NATIONAL OIL COMPANIES (NOCS)

Owen Tobias has extensive international experience and an understanding of both international and national oil companies across sub-Saharan Africa.

Owen is a partner of Webber Wentzel and head of national oil companies in the Oil & Gas Sector Group.

Owen joins Webber Wentzel from PetroSA in Cape Town where he had been general counsel and head of the Corporate Shared Services Division for nine years. He has experience in both the upstream and downstream oil and gas sectors and has worked in Africa, Europe, Latin America, South East Asia and the USA.

During his time with PetroSA, Owen was responsible for mitigating its legal exposure and advising on all legal aspects of the business. He also worked closely with international oil companies active in Africa on a myriad of legal and commercial matters relating to exploration, development, production, storage, marketing, supply, transportation and processing hydrocarbons.

Owen gained extensive experience in drafting and refining international oil and gas granting instruments, model form contracts (such as the Joint Operating Agreement, Farm‐out Agreement, Accounting Procedure, Confidentiality Agreement, Lifting Agreement, and Study and Bidding Agreement).

Prior to that, Owen spent seven years with Engen, firstly as international legal manager then as head: business development - Africa and finally as managing director of Engen Kenya Ltd & Oil Tanking (EPZ) Ltd.

His exploration and production advice covers specialised activities including negotiating various shale gas joint venture arrangements with international oil companies. His advisory experience extends to both upstream and midstream new ventures.

Owen has a BA, an LLB and a PMD from the University of Cape Town. He is a member of the Association of International Petroleum Negotiators (AIPN), the Corporate Lawyers Association of South Africa and the International Bar Association.

NATIONAL OIL COMPANIES (NOCS)

Candice Gabriel has extensive local industry knowledge and private sector experience.

Candice joins Webber Wentzel from PetroSA in Cape Town where she spent the last six years working as a senior legal adviser on a myriad of legal and commercial matters relating to exploration, development, production, storage, marketing, supply, transportation and processing hydrocarbons.

During her time with PetroSA she gained extensive experience in drafting and refining international oil and gas granting instruments, model form contracts (such as the Joint Operating Agreement, Farm‐out Agreement, Accounting Procedure, Confidentiality Agreement, Lifting Agreement, and Study and Bidding Agreement).

Candice is familiar with practical issues in the upstream exploration, development, and production business and has negotiated international granting instruments, seismic agreements, drilling and service agreements, farm‐outs and joint operating agreements, EPC and EPCM contracts, project and multi‐lateral financing, and off‐take arrangements. She is also adept at downstream marketing, natural gas and LNG sales, financing and construction, and other infrastructure, decommissioning, and abandonment issues.

Her exploration and production advice regularly covers specialised activities, including having negotiated various shale gas joint venture arrangements with international oil companies. Her advisory experience extends to both upstream and midstream new ventures. She has also dealt with litigious matters in South Africa, the Southern District of Texas Houston Division and the United Kingdom.

Candice focuses on providing legal and commercial support in connection with acquisitions, divestments, trades, and mergers; strategic commercial and business advice, large infrastructure projects, including LNG, GTL, and refineries; anti-corruption; exploration; development; and production operations; production sharing contracts; negotiations; and dispute resolution (litigation); and arbitration.

Candice has a BCom from Unisa; an LLB and a post graduate diploma in Forensic Auditing and Criminal Justice from the University of KwaZulu-Natal; a Shipping Diploma from the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers; and an LLM from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She has also completed a Management Advancement Programme in Oil and Energy at the University of Witwatersrand.

REGULATORY AND GOVERNMENT STRATEGY

Pulane Kingston’s expertise in the private sector covers both legal and business management aspects of business. She has also developed excellent relationships within regional governments and the investor community across sub-Saharan Africa.

Pulane joins Webber Wentzel from Absa Capital where she was managing principal. She was responsible for Absa Capital’s Human Resources, Transformation, Diversity, Marketing & Corporate Communication, and Corporate Social Investment Departments. She also managed the sustainability aspects of the Corporate, Investment Banking and Wealth Cluster.

In 2003 Pulane co-founded Sphere Holdings, a new generation investment holding, empowerment company focusing on financial services, industrial services and infrastructure. Other leadership positions include advisory mandates aimed at establishing and maintaining positive dialogue with the South African Government, which she undertook for both Lafarge and Xstrata.

Pulane’s career in law has included time with Shepstone & Wylie Attorneys in Durban as well as Edward Nathan & Friedland Inc (now ENS) and White & Case LLP in Johannesburg. She has an International Baccalaureate Diploma from the International School of Moshi, Tanzania; an LLB from University of Wales, College of Aberystwyth; and an LLM from the University of Nottingham, England. She is a member of the International Bar Association.

Jonathan Veeran specialises in regulatory aspects of the mining and upstream oil and gas industries.

Jonathan has been with Webber Wentzel since 2007 and became a partner in 2011.

He specialises in the regulatory aspects of transactions in the mining and upstream oil and gas industries. His client base includes various international companies (NYSE, LSE, ASX, TSX and AIM listed) operating in Africa.

He has advised on large black economic empowerment and indigenization transactions in South Africa and other African jurisdictions including Ghana, Guinea, Madagascar, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. He has extensive experience in developing structures which afford international investors protection under bilateral investment treaties as well as other instruments under international investment law.

His experience extends to advising mining companies and governments on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative's international best practice models. He has also contributed to the International Bar Association's Model Mine Development Agreement Project. Jonathan served as co-counsel to the claimants in the matter of Piero Foresti and other v the Republic of South Africa [italics], which was heard in Peace Palace in The Hague. He also serves on the Webber Wentzel team that was appointed to the advisory panel of the World Bank's EI-TAF project.

Jonathan has an LLB from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Key Contacts
John
Smelcer
Position:
Director, Oil & Gas Sector Group Head
Telephone:
+27 21 431 7186
Department:
Projects
Email:
john.smelcer@webberwentzel.com
Owen
Tobias
Position:
Executive Consultant
Telephone:
+27 21 431 7185
Department:
Africa
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