Last Updated on Saturday, 29 September 2018, 7:46 by Denis Chabrol
A prominent Guyanese law firm, which has now opened offices in the United States oil capital of Houston, Texas, will be monitoring all legislation and regulations that might impact on oil industry companies that are operating here or plan to do so, officials said Friday night.
The Guyana-headquartered 36-year old law firm-Hughes, Fields and Stoby– Friday night launched Hughes, Fields and Stoby USA PLLC, in association with Access Point. Its American partner, Greg Clark, who worked with Occidental Petroleum, a large oil and gas company as that organization’s General Counsel, will lead the Hughes, Fields and Stoby team in Texas.
“I like to call it ‘legislative watchman’ that the firm will keep their eyes out for every law, rule, regulation or policy that could impact our clients and we’ll take it upon ourselves to give them a draft of that document if it’s available, along with a memorandum summarising the potential impact that new legislation can have on the company, for those companies that want that service,” said Clark, a former US Marine and former negotiator for ExxonMobil and Occidental.
Unlike Qatar and Ecuador where he worked, Clark said those countries already had oil industry laws, regulations and policies. In Guyana’s case, he said there are no industry-specific legislative and regulatory frameworks. “This is a totally different environment here. The laws don’t exist and they are in the process of being developed and so I would imagine that this new service of being a watchman of the stuff that is coming ought to be of an interest to our clients but it’s their call,” he said.
Clark said Hughes, Fields and Stoby would, on behalf of its clients, be prepared to reach out to government to advocate for the best legislation. “Obviously, the government has its own experts, it has its own advisors but if the government, with its experts and advisors, in consort with the input that can happen vis-a-vis the oil and gas industry, you can get the best legislation possible. You don’t have to be saddled with strange laws that don’t work either for the government or for the industry and, therefore, counter-productive,” said Clark, a former Corporate Compliance Officer at Occidental.
“At the end of the day, bad legislation doesn’t benefit the government and it doesn’t benefit the industry,” he said. Clarke assured that he understands American laws on corruption such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Guyana is yet to put in place a Local Content Policy , pass legislation for the proposed Sovereign Wealth Fund and the Petroleum Commission and revise its model Production Sharing Agreement.
Praising Hughes, Fields and Stoby, with which he has worked for three years, for abiding by required ethical standards and having an “impeccable reputation”, Clark hoped that with the law firm’s presence in Houston, they would be able to provide a more timely service. “With launch of the Houston office, it’s our goal, my goal that we can help facilitate, expedite and encourage not only additional oil companies or oil-related service companies to come, but we hope that we can be the portal for new industry, new companies coming to Texas beyond the oil and gas sector,” he said
Services will include incorporations, labour advice, investment advice, publication of an high quality, well-researched e-magazine titled ‘Guyana Oil and Gas Report’, provision of webinars on doing business in Guyana, expatriate orientation, direct business-to-government contact.
“Long before a potential investor even arrives in Guyana, the law offices of Hughes, Fields and Stoby will be on hand in Houston to guide clients and potential clients through what will be a complex process of establishing business relationships in Guyana,” Managing Partner of the law firm, Attorney-at-Law, Nigel Hughes said. In delivering its legal and protocol services, he hoped that the direct linkages would help to change Guyana’s image as a place where investors are readily welcomed.
Hughes, Fields and Stoby has already established linkages with the Trinidad offices of PriceWaterhouseCoopers to offer legal and tax services.