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Nigeria: Energy & Natural Resources 2016

At the top of President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda since taking office in May 2015 is reform of the oil and gas sector. The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which was drafted in 2007, has failed to become law and now a new approach is being taken that have seen the PIB split into a series of bills to unbundle the controversial provisions in the hope that it will ease its passage through parliament. This reform comes at a difficult time for Nigeria which is suffering from dwindling oil prices. Economists are warning of a slowdown in economic growth due to the country’s heavy reliance on crude oil and lack of diversification. In the meantime, many of the operators are calling for a renegotiation of terms to try to avoid having to stop projects half-way. In this sector, we single out 34 leading lawyers.

Most Highly Regarded Individuals
Sola Adepetun Adepetun Caxton-Martins Agbor & Segun
Soji Awogbade AÉLEX
Ken Etim Banwo & Ighodalo

 

With five practitioners singled out for their expertise in this field Banwo & Ighodalo demonstrates its “impressive depth of practice” in the sector. Managing partner Ken Etim concentrates his practice on energy and project finance transactions and is lauded as a “font of knowledge” in the oil and gas sector. Respondents say Asue Ighodalo is “a smooth operator” who impresses with his “calm demeanour and expert handling of negotiations”. The “unflappable” Stella Duru handles transactions in the energy and natural resources sector with “great flair” and is considered “a leading light” by peers. Ayodele Oni has a “great understanding of clients’ business needs” and provides “workable and practical solutions”. Femi Olubanwo is a specialist in financing transactions and “his attention to detail is unsurpassed” according to peers.

Four lawyers are recommended at Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie. Managing partner and head of the banking and finance and power teams Dan Agbor is a “go-to adviser” on matters relating to the power sector in Nigeria. He is “exceedingly knowledgeable” and clients appreciate his “wealth of experience”. The firm’s senior partner Myma Belo-Osagie co- heads the oil and gas practice. Belo-Osagie is “fantastic on complex, regulatory matters” and was retained by federal government to assist with the drafting of Nigeria’s downstream gas legislation. Consultant Sally Udoma sits in the firm’s energy and arbitration practice. She brings “vast experience” of the oil industry having spent the last 30 years working in the sector. Her previous role before joining the firm was Regional General Counsel in Chevron's Global upstream organisation, with responsibility for Europe, Eurasia and the Middle East. Folake Elias-Adebowale co-heads the firm’s private equity and oil and gas teams. According to one respondent, “She is by all accounts incredibly bright and astute; someone you definitely want on your team.”

At Aluko & Oyebode, four names feature prominently in our research. Gbenga Oyebode is the managing partner of the firm and head of the corporate and energy practices. He is a “standout negotiator” who “always impresses” in transactions. Olubunmi Fayokun is a “fantastic all-rounder” who can turn her hand to financing transactions, M&A, capital markets and projects. Head of the litigation, arbitration and ADR practice Babatunde Fagbohunlu SAN is recommended for his experience in oil and gas disputes both litigation and arbitration. Clients praise his “dedication, diligent manner and strong command of the law”. Oghogho Makinde is a “stellar adviser” to oil and gas companies providing “solutions-oriented advice in a timely manner”. She also has extensive experience in advising on regulatory compliance and corporate advice.

At Olaniwun Ajayi three names stand out. The “talented” Wolemi Esan is the partner in charge of the power and infrastructure practice at the firm. He is a “reassuring adviser” whose experience encompasses a broad range of corporate and commercial law matters. Tominiyi Owolabi concentrates on oil and gas financing matters and is a “sensational lawyer” with “strong technical abilities”. Konyinsola Ajayi SAN is the firm’s managing partner, who is noted for his “wealth of experience” in the energy and natural resources sector having practiced for over 35 years.

At Adepetun Caxton-Martins Agbor & Segun, Sola Adepetun is “a go-to” on oil and gas development project negotiations. “He combines experience, industry know-how and commercial acumen to great effect” according to one client. Felicia Kemi Segun is also highly regarded; she specialises in advising on joint ventures, acquisition and disposal of petroleum exploration and production companies’ interests. She is “always available for her clients” and is described as a “hardworking individual”.

At Babalakin & Co, Bayo Adaralegbe heads the energy group and focuses on advising the upstream and downstream petroleum industry in major corporate transactions and regulatory compliance. He also advises on policy aspects and is considered a “very well-known name” in the market. Dunni Segun-Oki joined the firm in late 2015 and is a “great addition to the team”; he brings “fantastic insight into the industry”.

F O Akinrele & Co garners two listings in this edition. Adamu Usman advises on corporate aspects relating to the oil and gas industry and is “incredibly bright”. Adedolapo Akinrele SAN is knows “an extraordinary amount about energy law in Nigeria” said one peer.

At AÉLEX Soji Awogbade is a “leading figure” who has been “at the forefront of legal developments in the energy field”. He has participated in many major foreign direct investment transactions in the electric power and petroleum sectors.

Tope Solola of Solola & Akpana heads the litigation and arbitration, and energy and natural resources practice groups. Clients turn to him for his combination of “legal, regulatory and commercial knowledge”.

Uche Nwokedi SAN of Uche Nwokedi & Co is a “calming presence” on transactions and is a “formidable opponent” on contentious matters. His practice centres on the oil and gas industry and he is “without doubt a star in the field”.

At Gbenga Biobaku & Co Gbenga Biobaku stands out for his “exceptional abilities” and “unsurpassed experience” in the energy sector in Nigeria. He advises on transactions, joint ventures, financing and corporate restructuring. He is a “strong negotiator” with a “great track record”.

Head of Odujinrin & Adefulu’s energy and mining practices Adeoye Adefulu is a “frontrunner” in the sector who is described as a “consummate professional”.

Ola Alokolaro is head of the energy and infrastructure group at Advocaat Law Practice where he advises oil exploration and production, and mining companies on their investments and transactions in Nigeria. He has a “sterling reputation” and is a “bona fide expert” on energy law.

Oguntoye & Oguntoye’s Aderemi Oguntoye is a “seasoned expert” on oil and gas law having advised on concession agreements and legal and franchise agreements for the implementation of the Nigerian Gas Master Plan.

Timi Austen-Peters at the firm Austen - Peters & Co is “greatly respected”, especially for his “quick thinking and user friendly manner”.

At the firm George Ikoli & Okagbue, Sam Okagbue specialises in advising industry participants on oil and gas exploration and development in Nigeria. He is an “accomplished lawyer” who is “always well prepared”.

Fidelis Oditah & Co’s Fidelis Oditah QC SAN has a “hands-on approach” to client work, offering “practical and sound advice”. He provides transactional and litigation services to clients and is “extremely versatile”.

Managing partner and head of the energy and projects group at Templars Oghogho Akpata is a “distinguished player” in the sector who has an “encyclopedic knowledge” of oil and gas law and represents a broad range of clients operating in Nigeria.

Paul Usoro & Co, Mfon Ekong Usoro is a “leading figure” in the industry who has “established strong working relationships with stakeholders in both the private and public sectors”.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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