Daniel Wilmot, Mo Bhaskaran and David Savage presented in a webinar to companies from the oil & gas industry in partnership with leading Nigerian law firm Aluko & Oyebode on 8 June. Speakers from Aluko & Oyebode included Gbenga Oyebode, Kofo Dosekun, Tunde Fagbohunlu SAN, Reginald Udom, Oghogho Makinde and Ngo-Martins Okonmah.
The webinar addressed questions submitted by a selection of leading players in the industry, including international oil companies, upstream independents and oil service companies. The questions focused on the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the industry, including in respect of oil & gas engineering procurement and construction (EPC) projects.
The webinar covered an array of issues, and the questions illustrated the practical challenges that oil & gas businesses are facing at the moment. Partners and experienced practitioners from a variety of disciplines were fielded by Stewarts and Aluko & Oyebode to jointly address the questions and concerns raised during a live Q&A at the end of the webinar. The speakers offered practical steps that businesses should take to mitigate risk and preserve commercial interests, particularly in the face of the ongoing uncertainty both in the industry and more generally across the world.
The matters discussed were varied in topic, demonstrating the competing issues and interests that participants in the sector currently face. The panel considered the use and effects of force majeure clauses and whether they offered the only or best option to navigate cost and delay in construction projects and how they could be drafted in contracts under negotiation. Some questions focused on how to manage loan agreements during the crisis without triggering a default and what options might be available to borrowers.
The discussion also addressed the rights of parties in the face of requests to renegotiate existing contracts and what steps parties ought to take to preserve interests in those scenarios. Similarly, maritime issues were addressed, including the options available to charterers in the face of Covid-19 related costs under supply time arrangements. Everything discussed sought to align legal options with the current commercial realities of the industry.
Employment issues were considered in detail, including the obligations and liabilities of employers in the context of Covid-19 and the extent to which employees could refuse to resume work at an employer’s premises. The webinar also addressed the increased risk of financial crime and related regulatory issues arising during the current crisis and the steps and matters participants in the industry should consider and adopt in response.
Lastly, the webinar drew upon the insight of Mr Gbenga Oyebode, Chairman of Aluko & Oyebode, on the subject of the economic outlook in the sector, and Nigeria more generally, over the short-to-medium term.
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