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Most innovative US law firms: Energy law 2012

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Sullivan & CromwellStandoutThe Asia Pacific Liquefied Natural Gas (APLNG) development in Queensland, Australia88824Provided the model for unconventional gas-to-LNG projects through its $8.5bn financing structure for APLNG. The extraction of coal seam gas required a different risk profile and required new borrowing structures.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & FlomStandoutHelping energy services provider SolarCity achieve private market financing78722Created a flexible but standardised blueprint to finance large-scale distributed-energy projects for residential buildings, without public loan guarantees.
Latham & WatkinsHighly commendedAcquisition of Southern Union by Energy Transfer Equity (ETE) for $9bn86721The deal marked the first master limited partnership purchase of an unaffiliated public C-corporation to create the largest natural gas infrastructure group in the US. The legal team had to vault a number of hurdles, particularly tax and antitrust issues.
Weil, Gotshal & MangesHighly commendedEnergy company Kinder Morgan's $38bn acquisition of El Paso Corporation77721The deal created the fourth largest energy company in the US. The firm structured it so that the client took on all the antitrust risk and agreed a financing without a "reverse break free", while also divesting part of its business to finance the deal.
Cadwalader, Wickersham & TaftHighly commendedGainesville Renewable Energy Center, a 100-megawatt biomass power plant in Florida77620Advised American Renewables on one of the largest biomass financings, worth $500m. The long-term power purchase agreement was negotiated to take into account a different and variable risk profile, which also coped with changes in the law.
Winston & StrawnHighly commendedLeading negotiations on a structure for future combined heat-and-power facilities in California67720Helped to create a new paradigm for the development and operation of combined-heat-and-power facilities in California. Through leading an 18-month negotiation with investor-owned utilities, it has also given certainty to similar projects in the US.
Hogan LovellsCommendedPDVSA oil prepayment financing76619A three-tiered financing structure to enable Industrial and Commercial Bank of China to lend to PDVSA, the Venezuelan oil company. It involved a self-liquidating prepayment facility against future oil revenues.
Latham & WatkinsCommendedArlington Valley Solar Energy II Project: a new style of construction financing66719In a deal that required four separate tranches of debt financing, the firm came up with several features that allowed for flexibility in the different amortisation requirements of all the parties.
Shearman & SterlingCommendedAdvising AmeriGas Partners LP on its $2.9bn acquisition of Heritage Propane67619Using a leveraged partnership structure to defer gains, the firm devised a deal that allowed the seller, Energy Transfer Partners, to realise an immediate cash payment whilst deferring the tax.
Vinson & ElkinsCommendedAdvising Reliance on its sale of oil and gas exploration plots to BP66719BP acquired a 30 per cent stake in 21 Reliance oil and gas production sharing contracts at a cost of $7.2bn – one of the largest foreign direct investments made into India. The joint venture required intense and complex multi-party negotiations.
DLA PiperCommendedA joint venture between TNK-BP (Russia) and HRT Oil & Gas (Brazil)66618In a "farm-in" between the oil companies, the firm structured the deal to allow TNK-BP to purchase a 45 per cent stake in 21 oil and gas exploration blocks in the Amazon basin, with future commitments to purchase a further 10 per cent from HRT.
Vinson & ElkinsCommendedWorking with an MLP to complete an IPO with a stated variable distribution structure66618Worked on the first initial public offering of a master limited partnership in recent history that had a variable distribution structure for its shareholders based on its quarterly results.
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