THE Technical and Legal Guides to the International Oil and Gas Industry is an incredibly dry title, and one could be forgiven for believing that the contents of such publications would be as dry, especially since they were born in a lawyer’s office.
The long-winded title, however, belies the contents, at least the reviewer thinks so, not that he has ploughed through all 1,400 pages or so in three volumes; rather this has been a sampling exercise, but one that was hopefully reasonably thorough.
Edited by Aberdeen lawyer Ewan Neilson, of Stronachs, and oil industry veteran, John Wils, Aberlour has just published three volumes.
They are designed to accompany the first such guide, which was launched at Offshore Europe 2009.
Like their predecessor, the new volumes are also being launched at Offshore Europe. Volume one addresses markets, trading, refining and transportation; volume two embraces unconventional oil and gas, commercial contracts and transparency; and volume three covers climate change and emissions, and technology and regulations.
Their purpose is to inform clearly and without bogging the reader down in jargon – neither legal nor engineering. This was an important objective of the first title and Neilson and Wils have done an admirable job of holding to that original and very important objective, despite the engagement of myriad authors.
However, make no mistake, these books are designed to inform, and the do it admirably well.
In a sense, they are out to achieve the impossible by seeking to capture the big issues for hydrocarbons over the next 30 years. Moreover, every chapter has been peer-reviewed by experts in their respective areas – by seven individuals in at least one instance.
One of the toughest parts of this latest Neilson and Wils enterprise was how best to address unconventional – both oil and gas. They occupy chapters 10 and 11 of volume two.
As unconventional has only very recently started to come of commercial age, there was very little source material for the chapter authors to source.
Indeed, Neilson and Wils said it took two to three years to “crack chapters 10 and 11”. While there were lots of articles on the topic, there were no published works.
Energy knows of no other books that cover oil and gas industry technical and legal issues so thoroughly.
They will surely become an indispensable vade mecum for any lawyer and accountant engaged in this industry, and perhaps for oil and gas people who want to understand legal aspects of their business better than they do. Further, these volumes are a must for any university and college with an interest in teaching and researching energy topics.
Perhaps a North Sea operator or contractor would make a gesture now by ensuring that copies are lodged with all Scottish universities, and especially Robert Gordon and Aberdeen universities.