Climate change activism biggest threat to oil & gas companies – according to new survey

Valerie Allan, CMS Aberdeen-based partner and energy legal specialist

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A SURVEY of senior oil and gas sector legal managers has revealed a substantial number believe net zero actions, by shareholders, investors or activists, present a ‘real risk’ to their business.

The Oil and Gas Disputes Survey, conducted by law firm CMS, identified these and other forms of climate change activism as the biggest issue of concern with 37% of respondents saying they represented a significant threat.

Protestor disruption to offshore and onshore worksites was listed as the second most pressing area of concern with 26% of respondents saying it was a real risk for their company or company group.

The survey was based on more than 50 responses from senior legal managers and senior in-house counsel in the oil and gas industry across Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Africa and Latin America.

37% of all respondents, and 50% of those operating there, identified the UK Continental Shelf as the global region with the greatest risk of disputes arising. Africa was second and Latin America also made it onto the list.

Valerie Allan, CMS Aberdeen-based partner and energy legal specialist, said: “The CMS Oil and Gas Disputes Survey provides us with interesting insights into how industry disputes are arising and being managed around the globe.

“This is an evolving situation with the onset of environmental and climate change concerns. Currently the industry is defending an ever-growing list of climate change cases as activists begin to be more assertive, often through judicial review challenges.

“In 2020, several judicial reviews were brought by environmental campaigners seeking to limit or prevent oil and gas exploration activity.”





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