Lex Petrolea Symposium: A Sublime Example of International Cooperation

As part of its steady expansion into new areas of study, on 21 June the Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law (IISTL) ran an extremely successful symposium in the City on aspects of modern oil and gas law.

Organised in collaboration with Texas University's Centre for Energy Law and Business, based in Austin, Texas the event focused on recent developments in oil and gas law: in particular, investment arbitration, the legal regulation of fracking in Europe and the US, and problems of offshore exploitation and maritime boundary delimitation. A current running through the whole of the day's proceedings was the topic of Lex Petrolea and whether it can now be said that hydrocarbons have created their own self-contained body of law. To set the scene, a keynote address from Professor Terence Daintith (IALS) provocatively and unfashionably suggested that the answer was No. Other speakers in what turned out to be a very high-powered session included Professor Melinda E Taylor (Kay Bailey Hutchinson Center for Energy, Law and Business, University of Texas); Stephen Tromans QC (39 Essex Chambers); Sophie Nappert (Arbitrator, 3 Verulam Buildings); Dr Nima Tabari (IISTL); Professor Michael Sturley (Fannie Coplin Regents Chair in Law, University of Texas); Tabetha Kurtz-Shefford (IISTL); Randy Burton (Fisherbroyles, Houston, Texas) and Youri van Logchem (IISTL). Participants at the symposium, who were drawn not only from the UK but also widely from elsewhere in Europe, were very pleased with the quality of papers; they also played a significant part themselves in making the event a success with their interventions and questions.

Melinda Oil and Gas Symposium

Professor Melinda E Taylor (Kay Bailey Hutchinson Center for Energy, Law and Business, University of Texas) delivering her paper on fracking

Speaking immediately after the event the IISTL Director, Professor B. Soyer, commented: “This was a very important development for the IISTL for two reasons. First, consistently with our policy of developing international links with the best institutions there are out there, we have now established close co-oporation with a first-rate US academic organisation in the oil and gas field. This can only bode well for the future. Secondly, while we remain best known for maritime and commercial law, this has given us a golden opportunity to showcase our work in oil and gas and open it up to the wider world. A surprising number of our members have an interest in one part or another of this field; it is their work, plus the expertise of our senior professors, that has enabled us to launch a new and remarkably successful Oil and Gas LLM. This whole event has given me an enormous feeling of encouragement.”

Oil and Gas Symposioum Panel 2

From left to right: Professor Michael Sturley (University of Texas), Tabetha Kurtz-Shefford (IISTL) and Youri van Logchem (IISTL)

The symposium ended with a reception very generously hosted by Informa Law, with whom the IISTL has a long-standing productive relationship and for whose unstinting support the organisation remains as ever enormously grateful.