Can you tell us about Streamsowers & Kohn’s history on the African continent?
Streamsowers & Kӧhn is a Nigerian full service commercial law firm with a strong track record in energy and natural resources law, dispute resolution and corporate and commercial law. Whilst we are focused on Nigeria, we work with many international law firms and corporations from Europe, the United States and China. We have had a decade of exceptional achievements in our practice areas, ranging from being involved in some of the largest oil and gas transactions in Nigeria (US$2.6bn CNOOC PSC acquisition from Sapetro), settling a significant drug trial class action against Pfizer Inc. (the Trovan case) to a series of financings on behalf of clients. Due to the international nature of the oil and gas industry, we have also been able to support clients that invested in other African countries and require experienced counsel in oil and gas law.
Where do you see the opportunities for growth within the industry in the next 5 years and how is Streamsowers & Kohn positioned to support these opportunities?
We can speak most confidently about Nigeria; and here the story has not really changed over the past few years. The prolific nature of the Niger Delta means that it remains a hugely attractive terrain for oil and gas investments. As the majors divest from the Niger Delta to concentrate on the deepwater and in some cases, the gas export business, there are plenty of opportunities to pick up geologically low risk and yet world class assets. Domestic gas utilization is also an area of growth, which is increasingly being taken up by indigenous players such as Seplat. Marginal field opportunities will also grow.
Streamsowers & Kӧhn has the skills and the network of relationships that are crucial to supporting those that will take advantage of these opportunities. In fact, we are looking to grow our team and we are looking to meet those intrepid venturers that need our support.
What do you see as the key challenges facing the industry in the region over the coming 5-10 years and how is Streamsowers & Kohn positioned to overcome these challenges?
There are very many challenges, but I will just address a few. First, there is the challenge of putting the regulation of the industry on a firmer footing. There is currently a Petroleum Industry Governance Bill awaiting presidential assent. Whether this Bill is assented to or not, the regulator needs to improve its understanding and implementation of the regulation of the transfer of oil and gas interests. There is still too much opacity and with the greatest respect to my friends at the DPR, the Guidelines on Ministerial Consent to Transfers is inherently contradictory. This leads to uncertainty and that has a chilling effect on transfers of interest and financings.
Second, we need to clarify what can happen when an upstream oil and gas debtor can no longer pay its debts. What really can the lenders do? The Minister and the regulator have their work cut out to signal clearly to the market. I believe that it is time for the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Department of Petroleum Resources to issue regular guidance on topical issues as the Internal Revenue Service does.
The current Minister of State has been very active in the policy and commercial spheres, with many good ideas. But most of this output is mere policy, which can be easily jettisoned by the next government. There is still the challenge of passing the remaining portions of the Petroleum Industry Bill into law so as to truly modernize and transform the Nigerian oil and gas sector.
Streamsowers & Kӧhn has been very active in the policy and legislative advocacy space. We intend to become even more active in the thought leadership and advocacy for the oil and gas industry.
What have been the evolutions in your business in the region/country over recent years?
We have grown from one office to three in Nigeria; and we are looking to increase our regional footprint through strategic relationships with other law firms, regulators and companies in Africa.
What are the strategic priorities for your company in the next 12 months?
We want to grow our Energy and Natural Resources team to serve our growing clientele and to advance our goal of engaging in more thought leadership and policy advocacy. We believe that we have to ready for a torrent of work after the Nigerian elections next year.
What question or industry issue are you looking forward to hearing about at the Africa Assembly?
I am hoping to hear how lenders (especially Nigerian banks) have really coped with lending to Nigerian companies that bought assets just prior to the collapse of the oil price in 2014.
I also want to learn about developments in building domestic and export gas businesses in Nigeria, and the rest of Africa.
Streamsowers & Köhn
We extol the traditional precepts of law practice. Accordingly, we do not merely pay lip service to the concepts of professionalism, integrity, fidelity, confidentiality, and the avoidance and disclosure of conflicts. We hold these values dear and they are the very foundation of our actions. As experienced commercial lawyers, we have an understanding of the goals of commercial people. We understand the interplay of international expectations and the Nigerian business environment. We are aware of the principles and tools for the delivery of excellent legal services both internationally and in the Nigerian context. We possess the necessary intellectual and managerial ability, technology, contacts and other resources to support our clients in achieving their set goals. We deploy all our resources to ensure that our services are of demonstrable value to our clients.