Energy Insights with Martin McIntyre of Wood

Energy Insights with Martin McIntyre of Wood

Our partners, Calum Crighton, (Head of Energy), Findlay Anderson, (Head of Corporate), and Iain Clark, Solicitor Advocate (Head of International Arbitration) were delighted to host a number of leading General Counsel and in-house Senior Legal Advisers from the energy, oil, and gas sector in the first of our new quarterly Energy Insights events, in our Aberdeen Office on Thursday 29th February 2024.

The ‘fireside chat’ with Martin McIntyre, outgoing General Counsel from Wood, lived up to expectations, with some fascinating stories and genuinely insightful thoughts from his 35 year journey working in the Energy Sector, leading legal teams, working internationally, and advising Boards.

It is not at all surprising that we found both inspiration, as well as humour, in our round table discussion, whilst identifying common themes prompted by Martin’s keen observations of some of the main events of his career and the industry generally, including:

  • In the ever-evolving landscape of the energy sector, legal counsel play a crucial role in guiding organisations through complex regulatory frameworks, mitigating risks, and ensuring compliance, with the need for resilience and versatility within legal teams becoming increasingly apparent.
  • It is critical to forge strong relationships with CEOs/CFOs, recognising that each executive brings their own unique personality and approach to the business, which means legal counsel must be adaptable, recognising that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution
  • Where businesses are working in a fast-paced growth environment, punctuated by M & A activities, this introduces new challenges such as differences in work culture. Deciding between a decentralised or centralised model requires careful consideration of the pros and cons associated with each approach.
  • Effective communication is paramount, particularly between legal, finance, and commercial functions. Cross-functional collaboration is essential for success. Siloed operations hinder organisational synergy, therefore the interplay between these departments is crucial, with legal counsel acting as a bridge to ensure alignment and coherence.
  • Regulatory compliance is a non-negotiable aspect of operating in the Energy Sector. Legal teams must proactively monitor and foster a culture within the organisation that meets the high demands of regulatory compliance. This involves staying abreast of regulatory changes, conducting thorough due diligence, and implementing robust risk management strategies to identify, assess, and mitigate potential legal and financial risks.
  • Legal advisers, whether internal or external, are expected to do more than present options. The added value they bring lies in providing recommendations and standing by the advice given. In matters of ethics and regulatory compliance, advisors should be prepared to take a principled stand, even if it means parting ways with the organisation.
  • Given the potential financial and time implications of litigation, taking a proactive approach to dispute resolution is important, including considering alternative methods such as international arbitration and commercial mediation, which can offer efficient ways to resolve conflicts, while maintaining positive relationships with stakeholders.
  • When seeking external legal advice, organisations should prioritise knowledgeable experts with a global perspective. These advisors must not only understand the legal intricacies of the energy sector but also stay abreast of industry dynamics and global trends. This ensures that legal strategies are not only compliant with local regulations but also aligned with international best practice

In conclusion, legal counsel in the Energy Sector has to navigate a multifaceted landscape with resilience, adaptability, and a strategic mindset. By embracing these principles and emphasising effective communication, regulatory compliance, and strategic partnerships, legal counsel (in-house and external) can contribute significantly to the success and sustainability of the businesses they are supporting in this dynamic industry.

Look out for our next Energy Insights event, due to take place in May. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to any of our Energy Team members, including:

Calum Crighton
Partner, Head of Energy
Mobile:  +44 (0)7841 920 101


Findlay Anderson
Partner, Head of Corporate
Mobile:  +44 (0)7841 920 100


Iain K Clark
Solicitor Advocate, Partner
Head of International Arbitration
Mobile:  +44 (0)7908 022 304


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