News

UT Austin Students Win 2015-16 AIPN Scholarships

Three graduate students at The University of Texas at Austin are the recipients of 2015-16 AIPN Scholarships: Adam Abulawi (Texas Law J.D. Expected ’16), Andreas Michael (Ph.D. Petroleum Engineering student), and Jessica Sewell (Texas Law J.D. Expected ’15). Scholarship winners are being recognized for their potential to make a significant contribution to the field of international oil and gas negotiations. Eighteen scholarships were awarded this year.

About AIPN

Mission

The Association of International Petroleum Negotiators is an independent not-for-profit professional membership association that supports international energy negotiators around the world and enhances their effectiveness and professionalism in the international energy community.

Objectives

The AIPN is and will continue to be the premier organization for international energy negotiators, by:

  • Maintaining its “uniqueness” among professional energy organizations as independent, neutral and balanced.
  • Maintaining its cost-effective status among peers and competitors.
  • Maintaining its blend of disciplines and cultural backgrounds (commercial, legal and technical) while attracting new members with key competencies or backgrounds in order to enhance the services it offers.
  • Providing the highest quality service and value to members in order to enhance their career growth and development by offering: – Conferences, workshops and educational programs of the highest standard
  • Model contracts that are widely accepted and used in the industry
  • Networking forums in major petroleum regions
  • Timely and useful information through its Web site, publications and research papers

Profile

The AIPN was founded in 1981 to enhance the professionalism of cross-border energy negotiators throughout the world. It is now composed of more than 4,500 members in more than 110 countries, representing numerous international oil and gas companies, host governments, law firms and academic institutions. AIPN members come from a variety of disciplines: commercial, technical, academic and legal. The association hosts several quality events each year that provide networking opportunities and provide valuable educational programs and tools. In sum, the AIPN aims to help the international energy negotiator be better prepared to meet the challenges of today’s competitive global energy market.

AIPN dues and event fees are priced lower than other professional associations to encourage widespread member involvement. One reason AIPN is able to do this is because of the exceptional financial support from numerous companies who make up its Corporate Sponsors.

To help support its staff, AIPN relies on a board of committed volunteers. Members of the AIPN Board of Directors are committed to participate actively in AIPN business and activities during their terms of office. The board is elected annually, with the aim of it being representative of our global membership. AIPN’s staff, based in Houston, coordinates activities and provides administrative support to the Board of Directors.

Active membership in the association is available to anyone who is engaged in, or who has an interest in engaging in, international negotiations work. Student membership is available to students enrolled in a university of institution of higher learning. All AIPN members are assigned to one of AIPN’s eight regional chapters: Asia; Australia/Pacific; Canada; CIS; Europe/Africa; Latin America; Middle East; and United States.

AIPN Fact Sheet

Melinda Taylor, “Most in power sector favor markets for CCP: UT,” (Megawatt Daily”)

Megawatt Daily quoted KBH Energy Center Executive Director Melinda Taylor in a story about a new report released by the Center on June 24th entitled “EPA’s Clean Power Plan: Implementation Options.” The report indicates that most electricity industry stakeholders favor states using a market approach to achieve compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan. “[The report] allows us to go beyond rhetoric and see what industry participants and state officials really think,” said Taylor. Read press release.

Timothy Tyler and James Loftis, “King’s X in Mexico’s Round One” (Oil & Gas Financial Journal)

In a June 9 opinion piece, Adjunct Professors Timothy Tyler and James Loftis, together with co-authors  Claus von Wobeser and Marco Tulio Venegas, argue that the new Hydrocarbons Law contains language that allows the Mexican government to nullify contracts and worse. “Bidders in Mexico’s Round One, or those thinking about investing in Mexico’s upstream, face a political risk buried in Mexico’s new Hydrocarbons Law. The law contains vague and broad grounds that allow the Mexican government to nullify its exploration and extraction contracts, take back the contract area, and even to seek damages.” To mitigate the risk, the authors recommend that “Mitigation strategies might involve looking to the terms of other treaties, to see if Mexico’s investment-protection treaties with other treaty partners, of which there are over 40, offer greater protection than NAFTA. This requires detailed analysis of each potential investment protection treaty, which could include, for example, another treaty with a fair and equitable treatment standard that is not burdened with the commission’s interpretation, as NAFTA is.”

James Loftis and Timothy Tyler, “Mexico Energy Reform: With Economic Promises Comes Unprecedented Risk,” (Oil & Gas Financial Journal)

The Oil & Gas Financial Journal quoted Adjunct Professors James Loftis and Timothy Tyler in an article on risks associated with Mexico Energy Reform. According to the article “Mexico’s energy reforms provide an historic opportunity to revitalize its energy sector and bolster its overall economy, but a whole new crop of assets will have to be protected and attendant risks sensibly managed.” Loftis and Tyler said “there is considerable risk buried in Mexico’s new Hydrocarbons Law.” “The new law contains vague and broad grounds that allow the Mexican government to nullify its exploration and extraction contracts, take back the contract area, and even to seek damages,” said Loftis and Tyler.

KBH Energy Center Releases Report Highlighting Insights from Industry Experts and State Officials on Implementation of EPA’s Clean Power Plan

AUSTIN, Texas – The Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law, and Business at The University of Texas at Austin released a report today highlighting insights from industry experts and state officials on the implementation of EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The Plan, which aims to reduce power sector carbon dioxide emissions, is expected to be finalized in August 2015. Once this occurs, states will then develop compliance plans, outlining strategies for reducing emissions. Melinda Taylor, the executive director of the KBH Energy Center, and Romany Webb, a research fellow in the Center, authored the report. The report is based on 66 survey responses. “The report provides valuable insight into implementation of the Clean Power Plan,” said Taylor. “It allows us to go beyond rhetoric and see what industry participants and state officials really think.”

The Clean Power Plan envisages that electric power companies will reduce their emissions by, among other things, switching to lower carbon fuel sources and increasing investment in energy efficiency. This will likely result in a transition away from coal towards natural gas and renewable energy sources. Given this, the Clean Power Plan has been highly controversial. EPA received approximately two million public comments from states, industry leaders, environmental groups, and public citizens with a wide range of opinions on the best options to proceed with the Clean Power Plan.

To help inform this debate, The University of Texas at Austin conducted a survey from April to June 2015 on key issues relating to the Clean Power Plan. Responses were collected from 24 power company executives, 13 industry consultants, 28 state officials, and 1 regional transmission organization staffer. The respondents came from a geographically diverse area but did not represent every state.

Survey respondents were not asked whether they support or oppose the Clean Power Plan. Rather, the survey focused on issues relating to implementation of the Plan. The survey results are summarized in the report. Key findings of the report include: (1) the majority of survey respondents favored development of state compliance plans over federally-developed plans, (2) most respondents agreed that states should adopt mass-based trading programs, but were divided on the use of other policies, (3) respondents expressed strong support for market-based compliance options, (4) the bulk of respondents supported adoption of mass-based emissions targets in place of rate-based targets proposed by EPA, and (5) there was broad support among respondents for interstate cooperation on the Clean Power Plan.

“The survey respondents expressed surprisingly similar views on implementation of the Clean Power Plan” said Romany Webb, a post-graduate research fellow in the Center and co-author of the report. “There is a clear preference among respondents for state-developed compliance plans that incorporate a variety of measures implemented at both the state and regional level.”

Read a blog post summarizing the report on the KBH Energy Center’s Blog.

For additional information, contact Romany Webb at (512) 232-1408 or rwebb@law.utexas.edu or Melinda Taylor at (512) 619-4898 or mtaylor@law.utexas.edu.

About the KBH Energy Center

The Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law, and Business is an innovative interdisciplinary joint venture of the School of Law and the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. The mission of the KBH Energy Center is to provide the finest educational opportunities in the United States to students who wish to pursue careers in energy and to serve as a nexus for incisive, unbiased, and relevant research and analyses for policy makers, with a special emphasis on Latin America.

About the Authors

Melinda Taylor is a senior lecturer at the University of Texas School of Law and the executive director of the KBH Energy Center. Prior to joining the faculty, Professor Taylor was the director of the Ecosystem Restoration Program at the Environmental Defense Fund, where she worked to protect endangered species and water resources. She has also served as deputy general counsel of the National Audubon Society and was an associate at Bracewell & Patterson in Washington, D.C.

Romany Webb is a post-graduate research fellow in the KBH Energy Center. Ms. Webb’s current research focuses on controlling greenhouse gas and other air emissions from energy production. Ms. Webb previously worked at the University of California, Berkeley, where she researched climate change policy. She has also practiced energy and water law in Sydney, Australia.

In the News

Most in power sector favor markets for CCP: UT.” Platts Megawatt Daily. June 24, 2015.

Adam Abulawi (JD Expected ’16) Awarded Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Scholarship

Adam Abulawi (JD Expected ’16) was recently awarded a Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Scholarship for the 2015-16 academic year. As part of the scholarship, Adam was invited to attend the 61st Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute in Anchorage, Alaska, this summer.

Adam was also a recipient of the 2015-16 Ernest and Paula Smith Energy Law Scholarship. The scholarship, which is named in honor of Texas Law Professor Ernest Smith and his wife, Paula, is awarded to a Texas Law student in recognition of outstanding achievement and potential in energy law.

Congratulations, Adam!