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06 March 2015

ENeRgize Newsletter - January 2015

The Charles Russell Energy & Natural Resources update

Welcome to the first Charles Russell Speechlys ENeRgize newsletter. This is our first edition since Charles Russell and Speechly Bircham merged. The merged firm now has one of the largest commercial and business capabilities, with many acknowledged specialisms, and a pre-eminent private wealth practice. Our new Energy & Natural Resources team now has increased resource and experience across the sector, particularly in the key areas of oil & gas, mining, and cleantech & renewables.

This quarter our focus is on energy and oil and gas. We take a look at onshore oil and gas opportunities in East Africa, highlight a major Appeal Court win by our Planning team for the UK onshore oil sector, provide a brief overview of the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme which was brought in by the UK Government in July 2014, and take a look at what makes cities "Smart”.


East Africa – Opportunities in the “Pearl of Africa”

In September 2014 Malcolm Dowden, a consultant in our ENR team, joined a high-level trade delegation to East Africa, organised by UKTI and led by the Lord Mayor of London. Malcolm designed and led a series of training workshops on Public Private Partnerships, energy and infrastructure projects in the region. The sessions were designed for the emerging and rapidly-developing PPP units of the governments of Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. During the visit, the delegation received full economic, political and security briefings from UKTI to highlight not only risks, but also the significant opportunities for business in the region. Click here to read more.

Conventional Oil & Gas win in the Court of Appeal

While local opposition to fracking continues to dominate the headlines, an important Court of Appeal decision was made in June this year (in turn confirming the judgment in the High Court in July last year) which serves as a reminder of the continued significance of the conventional oil and gas industry in the UK. That Court of Appeal decision should now help the domestic oil and gas industry on a national basis, by removing some of the barriers to obtaining planning consent for hydrocarbon exploration in areas which are designated as Green Belt.

Charles Russell Speechlys' client, AIM listed Europa Oil & Gas (Holdings) plc, had challenged in the High Court a 2012 Planning Inspector’s decision dismissing its appeal against Surrey County Council’s refusal of consent for Europa to develop an exploratory hydrocarbon well at Holmwood. Click here to read more.

What is the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme?

In order to comply with the UK’s European-led climate change mitigation targets, the Government has brought in the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (“ESOS”). It is a mandatory energy assessment and energy saving identification scheme for large undertakings (which are explained below), which applies throughout the UK. ESOS is intended to provide high quality and targeted information on cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities for those organisations which are caught by it, which would ultimately also bring financial savings to those affected. The Scheme was brought in by the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme Regulations 2014, in July 2014. Click here to read more.

“Smart communities”

From Orkney to Islington, smart technologies are changing the way communities interact with their environment and are allowing them to utilise existing infrastructure to its maximum potential, often in new and exciting ways.

The Orkney Islands’ smart grid was the first network in the world to link energy storage systems on an island network with the integrated output from solar, wave, wind and tidal electricity generation. By balancing supply and demand in real time, the introduction of a smart grid system allowed the island to harness its unique natural resources and increase its renewable energy generation. Meanwhile, the London Borough of Islington is using its local resources in the form of hot air from the local Northern Line to generate heat for houses and a leisure centre. In both the Orkneys and Islington, the community’s use of locally available resources also helps reduce the energy waste from long distance transmission.

However, the real challenge is implementing such schemes on a city-wide scale, where smart technologies must be applied to pre-existing infrastructure networks which are typically intricate and often unwieldy. As Hitachi’s Jӧrg Nowack commented, drawing on his involvement in the Copenhagen Project, it is this “interplay and interconnectivity” between different smart technologies which defines what it really means to be “smart”. Click here to read more.