News Types: Press Releases

“Mexico Energy Reform To Inject Billions Into Texas, Panel Told” (Law360)

By Jess Davis

 

Law360, Dallas (September 19, 2014, 7:38 PM ET) — The denationalization of the Mexican energy market after 75 years of government control will give Texas industry enormous opportunities for growth, with Mexico expected to spend more than $10 billion to import Texas goods and services in early stages of the overhaul, experts told a Texas Senate panel Friday.

 

Speaking to a Senate subcommittee formed to study the impact of Mexico’s landmark 2013 energy reforms, policy experts, economists and lawyers outlined the massive changes Mexico adopted and the opportunities the change provides for Texas companies and universities, not just in the energy sector but in manufacturing and technological research. Committee chair Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, said the restructuring “will be a tremendous benefit not only to Mexico but also to the state’s economy.”

 

Primary and secondary impacts will give Texas $10.5 billion in additional economic activity, with 132,000 new jobs and more than $2 billion in tax revenue headed to the state, said Nathaniel Karp, executive vice president and chief economist of BBVA Compass. A tertiary effect, coming from increased regional trade as Mexico grows and improves its living standards and income, will generate $34.9 billion in incremental economic activity in Texas, Karp said.

 

“Texas stands to be the major beneficiary from the reform due to deep economic ties, geographic proximity and expertise in energy exploration, production and distribution,” Karp said.

 

Karp said Mexico will need Texas firms to provide physical resources, cutting edge technologies and human capital and expertise, particularly because more than half of Mexico’s resources are considered unconventional and needing horizontal drilling and fracking to be productive and with its two largest basins near the Texas border and the Eagle Ford Shale.

 

The Mexican government in August finalized legislative measures that open up its oil industry to private and foreign investment. It also laid out a road map for energy firms to grab a piece of Mexico’s vast oil and gas reserves: Model forms of contracts will be unveiled later this year, with bidding on reserves not held by state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos — also known as Pemex — and the awarding of contracts in 2015.

 

Jose Maria Lujambio Irazabal of the Texas and Mexico law firm Cacheaux Cavazos & Newton LLP, the former general legal counsel of the Mexican Energy Regulatory Commission, described the new model as free market, with regulation where needed. Among the options for contracts to develop oil and resources will be service contracts like those already used by Pemex, along with alternatives that could be more profitable, he said.

 

“The novelty here is we’re going to have licensing contracts, which will be almost like concessions, and production sharing contracts, which are the ones that will give the best incentives for private companies to invest in Mexico,” Lujambio said.

 

He said while Texas may not need to make any legislative changes to best take advantage of the reforms, the U.S. may need to change its process for granting permits for cross-border infrastructure like gas and fuel pipelines and electricity transmission lines.

 

Mexico’s energy reforms have gotten significant attention, but they’re just part of a broad reform agenda that includes changes to its labor, education, economic competition, telecommunications, finances and tax, as well as updates in social areas like the justice and penal systems, electoral changes and transparency.

 

Cesar Martinez, a vice president at consulting firm Vianovo, called the reforms in Mexico a paradigm shift equivalent to the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

 

Within the energy sector, Martinez said, the first area likely to see growth is in the midstream sector, with pipeline infrastructure one of the key areas for partnerships between Texas and Mexican companies. And as the reforms continue to be implemented, opportunities will arise in actual drilling for shale oil and gas, in improving the Mexican energy grid and power generation capacity and in human capital, with educational exchanges between Texas and Mexico universities, he said.

 

Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, asked whether the opportunity for American companies would be mainly in an advisory and support role, providing guidance, technology and workers. Martinez pointed out American companies will be able to directly invest and operate in all sectors except for nuclear energy, which will remain operated by the Mexican government.

 

–Editing by Jeremy Barker. 

Big Men Film to be Broadcast on PBS on August 25, 2014

PBS Preimiere: August 25, 2014

Online: Aug. 26, 2014 – Sept. 24, 2014

Synopsis

Over five years, director Rachel Boynton and her cinematographer film the quest for oil in Ghana by Dallas-based Kosmos. The company develops the country’s first commercial oil field, yet its success is quickly compromised by political intrigue and accusations of corruption. As Ghanaians wait to reap the benefits of oil, the filmmakers discover violent resistance down the coast in the Niger Delta, where poor Nigerians have yet to prosper from decades-old oil fields. Big Men, executive produced by Brad Pitt, provides an unprecedented inside look at the global deal making and dark underside of energy development — a contest for money and power that is reshaping the world. Official Selection of the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.

Read the full film description.

Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law and Business to be Established at UT Austin

The Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law and Business will be established jointly by the School of Law and the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin.

The naming of the center was approved on May 15, 2014 by the University of Texas System Board of Regents.

The mission of the interdisciplinary center will be to provide the finest educational opportunities in the U.S. to students pursuing careers in energy. The center will also provide critical analyses of legal, business and policy questions related to energy and the energy industry, both domestic and international, including an emphasis on Latin America.

The center will combine three existing centers at the university: the School of Law’s Center for Global Energy, International Arbitrations, and Environmental Law; the McCombs School’s Energy Management and Innovation Center; and the School of Law’s Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Latin American Law, which the Board of Regents honorifically named for Hutchison last July. The Center for Latin American Law was formally established in 2013 but is not yet active. The new Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law and Business will unite the expertise and resources of these three centers.

“We are proud this new center will be named for such a wonderful public servant who has a long and cherished relationship with our university,” said UT Austin President Bill Powers. “This exciting new venture will help us continue to establish The University of Texas at Austin as the country’s premier energy university.”

“We are proud to name the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law, and Business in honor of an outstanding public servant and distinguished University of Texas at Austin alumna who has supported energy studies from a broad perspective for many years, including the legal, managerial, and policy issues relevant to the energy industry,” added Francisco Cigarroa, chancellor of the University of Texas System. “This new center will combine the expertise and resources associated with three existing centers in law and business at UT Austin and provide a world-class, innovative educational experience to students and researchers, and balanced and incisive analyses to policy makers.”

Hutchison is a distinguished alumna (B.A. 1962, J.D. 1967) and staunch advocate for centers of excellence in higher education. She retired from politics in 2012 after serving for nearly 20 years as a U.S. senator from Texas. She joined Bracewell & Giuliani in 2013 and represents clients in banking, energy, transportation, telecommunications and public policy. She is active in supporting both the School of Law and the LBJ School of Public Affairs and has ardently promoted the importance of research and diversity within higher education.

Read brochure about the KBH Center at UT Austin.

For more information, please visit www.kbhenergycenter.utexas.edu.

Energy Center Convenes International Arbitration Conference in Santiago, Chile, June 5-6 2014

On June 5 and 6, 2014, the Energy Center convened a conference in Santiago, Chile, that focused on emerging trends in the use of international arbitration to resolve energy disputes in Latin America. It was the first conference on the topic ever held in Santiago. The goal of the event was to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas between Latin American experts and specialists from the United States and Europe on critical issues related to energy and arbitration.

Chilean Under Secretary of Justice Marcelo Albornoz opened the conference with remarks about the importance of energy in the global economy and thanked the Energy Center and The University of Texas School of Law for hosting the event. Over the course of two days, six panels of experts from energy companies, law firms, and universities discussed issues relevant to investor-state disputes, the jurisdiction of arbitrators and the roles of courts in reviewing arbitral awards, remedies in arbitration, and the importance of human rights and environmental considerations in arbitration proceedings. Professor Larry Sager from UT Law made closing remarks.

The conference was sponsored by five law firms – Bofill Mir & Álvarez Jana Abogados, Cleary Gottlieb, Debevoise & Plimpton, Gardere, and Vinson & Elkins. In addition, the Centro de Arbitraje y Mediación de Santiago, the International Centre for Dispute Resolution, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, the International Chamber of Commerce Chile, and the Permanent Court of Arbitration sponsored the event. Over 130 lawyers, students, business people, and academics from Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, the U.S., and elsewhere registered for the conference. The Energy Center’s executive director, Melinda Taylor, said the event was a resounding success. “The discussions among the panelists and the audience were thoughtful and productive. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with many of the individuals and the institutions that participated in this important conference.”

Photo 2

From left to right: conference participant; conference faculty Professor Victor Ferreres Comella, Pompeu Fabra University and Carlos Saavedra Teran, in-house counsel, YPBF-Andina; Chilean Under Secretary of Justice Marcelo Albornoz; and Professor Melinda E. Taylor, executive director, Energy Center.

UTROG Petitions EPA to Adopt Conflicts Disclosure Rule

The University of Texas Regulatory Oversight Group (UTROG) today petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to adopt a policy requiring that parties who submit research and data disclose sponsor influence and related conflicts of interest.

The petition argues that the EPA relies heavily on privately produced research in its decision-making but that the agency can only give this research proper weight if it understands the degree to which it may have been subject to biasing effects.

Conflicts disclosure is a common practice within the scientific community and is already required by other federal agencies. In its petition, UTROG recommends as a template the disclosure form that the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors uses.

UTROG is an unofficial organization at the University of Texas comprised of law and other graduate students who work with law professors to identify opportunities to ensure optimal public engagement and participation in federal and state regulatory programs. UTROG’s goal is to provide an independent, balanced, and rigorous analysis of important regulatory issues. Its positions are not necessarily the positions of the administration of the University of Texas.

Energy Center Releases Two Reports on Water Resources in Texas

The Center for Global Energy, International Arbitration, and Environmental Law released two reports today on water resources in Texas. The reports address two of the most critical environmental issues facing the State today, water conservation and endangered species.

The first report, “The Conflict between Endangered Species and the State Water Plan: Will New Listings under the Endangered Species Act Thwart the State Water Planning Process?,” examines whether water projects included in Texas’ State Water Plan and certain potential surface and groundwater withdrawals could impact any of the sixteen aquatic species in Texas that the federal government is considering listing under the Endangered Species Act. The report concludes that, overall, the potential listings will not affect the state’s plans to expand access to surface water, as the listings will only impact a small number of projects.

The second report, “Financing Conservation: Texas’ Water Infrastructure Bank and the 20 Percent Set-Aside,” examines the key issues that the Texas Water Development Board will face as it implements the conservation and reuse set-aside included in the state’s new water infrastructure financing scheme. The set-aside was one of the features that helped Proposition 6 to win widespread support and passage in November 2013.

For more information, contact: Melinda Taylor, executive director, UT School of Law, 512-232-3641, or Jeremy Brown, research fellow, UT School of Law, 512-232-1408.

The Center for Global Energy, International Arbitration, and Environmental Law promotes and sponsors education, collaborative research, critical discussion, policy analyses, and hands-on clinical experience to address the most pressing energy and natural-resource issues of our time.

2014 Austin Electricity Conference

The 4th Annual Austin Electricity Conference will once again convene a diverse group of experts from across the country to explore issues in the industry. The conference is an annual, invitation-only conclave of engineers, economists, policymakers, lawyers and other experts in the electric utility industry, drawn from academia, industry, government, and NGOs. The conference follows the Aspen Institute model, in which extended plenary discussions are organized around short (less than 10 min.) panel presentations so as to promote cross disciplinary discussion among the invited participants. In this way, the model treats all invited participants as “presenters” and puts less emphasis on formal panel presentations.

The 2014 Austin Electricity Conference will explore the challenges to traditional modes of generating and delivering electricity posed by innovation in the electricity industry. Innovation poses challenges to the traditional utility-centric, central station model of energy service.  Innovation in generation, transmission and metering technologies, in business models and ownership structures for new electric generation facilities, and in regulatory regimes is driving rapid change in the electric utility industry. In some ways, this innovation is driving decentralization in the industry, including the development of distributed generation, micro grids, electricity storage (including, for example, electric cars), and other alternatives to traditional delivery of electric services, and creating new opportunities at the intersection of gas and electric markets.  In other ways, the transmission and distribution utilities sit at the center of all this change.

Program

SPONSORS
Center for Global Energy, International Arbitration and Environmental Law
Red McCombs School of Business

PHOTOS FROM THE 2013 AUSTIN ELECTRICITY CONFERENCE

2013 AEC 6

2013 AEC 4

2013 AEC 3

UT Law Students Form Environmental Moot Court Team, Win Best Oralist Award

 

Photo of the three members of UT Law's environmental moot court team
Teammates (from left to right) Lindsay Dofelmier, David Fisher, and Nora Gay at the NELMCC

Over the February 22-23 weekend, UT Law students competed at the National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition hosted by Pace University School of Law in White Plains, New York. The team, composed of three 2Ls – Lindsay Dofelmier (the Energy Center’s summer 2013 intern), David Fisher (the inaugural Energy Center Fellow), and Nora Gay – were the first ever from UT Law to compete in the competition, which drew nearly 80 teams from law schools around the country.

Coached by UT Law Professors Natalia Blinkova and David Nix, the team represented fictional parties Jacques Bonhomme, Shifty Maleau, and the State of Progress in a Clean Water Act case, which required them to prepare arguments for each party on issues ranging the scope of the Act’s citizen suit provision to the determination of point sources and navigable waters. The team prepared a brief on behalf of Mr. Bonhomme in November 2013, and represented all three parties in oral arguments throughout the competition. They were awarded three “Best Oralist” awards between them at the competition.

“It has been a great opportunity to improve our oral advocacy and brief-writing skills,” said team member David Fisher. “And we learned quite a lot about the Clean Water Act along the way.” The three team members hope to compete again in the competition next year, aided by their faculty coaches.

Energy Center Co-Hosts Workshop on Texas Water Financing

On February 21, the Energy Center partnered with the UT Office of Sustainability and the Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution to host a workshop on a set-aside for conservation and reuse in Texas’ new water financing laws.

Melinda Taylor stands at podium
Melinda Taylor, UT Law Energy Center

In November 2013, Texas voters by a roughly three-to-one margin approved Proposition 6, which amended the Texas Constitution and the Texas Water Code to create a new water infrastructure bank, the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT).  SWIFT was capitalized with a $2 billion appropriation from the State’s Rainy Day Fund and is subject to a twenty percent set-aside – codified at § Texas Water Code 15.434(b)(2) – for conservation and reuse.

The legislature charged the Texas Water Development Board with responsibility for implementing and managing the new financing scheme.  The workshop explored the issues and opportunities the agency will face.

For slides, audio, and a program from the event, please click here.

Energy Center Releases Environmental Law Internship Guide

In conjunction with UT Law’s Environmental Law Society and Career Services Office, the Energy Center has released a guide to environmental law internships.

The guide includes information about dozens of internship opportunities and is intended to serve as a guide for law students seeking summer and school-year placements.

While the guide includes positions with the federal government and national nonprofits, the primary focus is on Texas.