Call for clarity in legal approach to maximising North Sea oil and gas recovery

Greater clarity in the legal framework governing hydrocarbon recovery in the North Sea is required to realise the goals of the Wood Review, according to energy law experts at the University of Aberdeen.

Greg Gordon from the University’s Law School will make the claim at a conference taking place at the University next week that will focus on maximising economic recovery in the region.

The conference will feature leading figures from industry, including the Oil and Gas Authority’s Director of Exploration and Production Gunther Newcombe and Paul Goodfellow, Vice President, UK and Ireland Upstream, for Shell.


Speaking ahead of the conference, which takes place at the King’s Conference Centre next Thursday (April 14), Mr Gordon said:

“The implementation of Sir Ian Wood’s review of the industry is a reassertion of the state interest in oil and gas and a move away from decades of light-touch, laissez-faire regulation. 

“This radical change presents challenges to a legal and regulatory culture that has built up over decades, and to address this we need to have a range of clear legal obligations regarding vital issues such as access to infrastructure in the North Sea for oil and gas firms.

“The implementation of the Wood Review is legally complex and contains multiple layers of statute and strategy documents, not all of which seem to be wholly clear and consistent.

“In my presentation I will seek to demonstrate how by developing standard legal documentation and automating aspects of the negotiation process we can simplify the process of gaining access to infrastructure.

“Such an approach would significantly reduce transaction costs and delays that could potentially impact on future exploration and production activity, thereby helping to realise the goals of the Wood Review.”

In addition to Dr Gordon’s contribution, Professor Alex Kemp from the University of Aberdeen will speak at the conference on the impact and implications of measures included in the Budget to aid the industry.  Other high profile speakers include Graeme Young from CMS Cameron McKenna LLP, Derek Leith from EY, John Pearson from Amec Foster Wheeler and Ian Philips from the Oil and Gas Innovation Centre (OGIC).

John Scrimgeour, Director of the Aberdeen Institute of Energy at the University of Aberdeen, will chair a panel discussion at the conference.

He said: “This is shaping up to be a stimulating and fascinating consideration of the many issues and challenges facing the sector at this time.

“We are confident that we have created the very first conference of this kind, where a range of speakers from academia and industry will debate the major legal, organisational and technical issues, many of which have not yet been discussed or debated in sufficient detail, and are not yet common knowledge.

“The conference will offer delegates a significant opportunity to hear from key experts, network with fellow colleagues and get involved in the key areas of discussion.”

For further details on the conference, including programme and registration details, visit