Crisis Response &
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Author Archive

Houston Sutherland partners Rachel Clingman and Steven Roberts selected to ‘Who’s Who in Energy’ list

Posted on: November 22nd, 2013

HOUSTON – Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP partners Rachel Giesber Clingman and Steven L. Roberts  are being recognized among the Top 100 leaders in the Houston energy market in the 2013 edition of “Who’s Who in Energy.”

This is the second time both were named among the top influencers in the energy industry based on his selection by the editors of the Houston Business Journal. The “Who’s Who in Energy” list accompanies similar rankings compiled by editors at American City Business Journal publications in Austin, Dallas, Denver, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, St. Louis, and Columbus, Ohio. The full list was published Nov. 15.

Ms. Clingman, partner in charge of the Houston office, is nationally recognized as a litigator who delivers success as defined by the client. She regularly represents energy, chemical, and transportation companies in government, regulatory, and internal investigations. She was selected for Benchmark Litigation’s inaugural list of “Top 250 U.S. Women Litigators;” The American Lawyer’s “45 Under 45” list; and honored with BTI Consulting Group’s Client Service Award for delivering unsurpassed client service.

Mr. Roberts has more than 35 years of courtroom experience, litigating energy, commercial, international insurance, maritime and professional services matters. Recognized nationally for his litigation, insurance and maritime knowledge, he was named to Chambers USA: Guide to Leading Business Lawyers in the area of insurance law; selected as a Texas Local Litigation Star by Benchmark Litigation; and repeatedly named to The Best Lawyers in America in the areas of admiralty & maritime law and personal injury litigation.

Sutherland’s attorneys in Austin and Houston represent clients in Texas and around the world in litigation, energy, transactional, regulatory, environmental and intellectual property matters.



Altered landscape: Pipeline safety agency expands rules to midstream operators

Posted on: November 13th, 2013

The regulatory landscape for midstream gas processing and storage could change significantly, Sutherland’s pipeline attorneys say, thanks to plans by the federal pipeline safety agency, PHMSA, to expand its oversight.

Recently, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) indicated it would require midstream natural gas processors and storage operators to abide by the same rules applied to pipelines that transport natural gas liquids. These midstream facilities traditionally have been regulated by OSHA, not PHMSA.

This expansion would obligate companies to reassess their operations and create new compliance programs, says Rachel Giesber Clingman, partner in the Houston office. It also may cause confusion over which specific regulatory rules or standards will be applied to midstream facilities.

The prospect of simultaneous regulation by PHMSA and OSHA is sure to increase operational uncertainty and compliance costs. In at least one case, PHMSA has fined one operator $800,000 and ordered extensive remedial action after finding its midstream process safety management program didn’t comply with the pipeline agency’s regulations.

The full analysis by Sutherland attorneys can be read here. In addition to Ms. Clingman, other Sutherland attorneys familiar with this issue are Jacob Dweck, Paul F. Forshay, Sean D. Jordan, Susan G. Lafferty, Jack Massey and Mark Thibodeaux.

Sutherland partner featured in story on energy companies doing business in Mexico

Posted on: September 17th, 2013

Sutherland partner Steven L. Roberts was quoted recently in the Houston Business Journal in an article about the challenges for energy companies dealing with the legal system in Mexico.

The energy industry is anxiously waiting to see what types of reforms Mexico’s new president might support. Roberts notes that country’s legal system has some significant differences that must be navigated.

“It’s almost required to have a Mexican national agent,” Roberts told the HBJ. Also key is writing arbitration into the contract.

While some might think the U.S. system is a free-for-all at times, it’s a rule-driven methodical process compared to litigation in Mexico, says Roberts. “You want to be in the arbitration situation when at all possible.”

The legal system in Mexico isn’t based on common law practices as it is in the U.S. That can mean that a case that might be a simple commercial dispute in this country could wind up in criminal territory in Mexico, he says.

The full article, “Complex Mexican legal system can challenge foreign energy companies,” is here (subscription required):

Sutherland lawyer featured in Gulf Spill news story

Posted on: June 25th, 2013

Transocean executive is grilled; BP lawyers work to poke holes in case

The Times-Picayune

By Richard Thompson

27 March 2013

The Transocean executive who led the Swiss-based company’s internal investigation into the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster testified Tuesday that the drilling rig was “in really good shape” before the accident, as the company’s lawyers worked to poke holes in previous testimony that blamed the rig owner for BP’s Macondo well blowout.

Bill Ambrose, Transocean’s director of special projects, testified on the 17th day of the sprawling civil trial to determine liability for the accident and assess tens of billions of dollars in fines and damages. Ambrose was Transocean’s director of maintenance and technical support when the Deepwater Horizon caught fire and exploded April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers and leading to one of the largest oil spills in the nation’s history.

During direct questioning by Transocean lawyer Rachel Clingman, Ambrose recalled learning about the accident early the next morning.


Sutherland attorneys to discuss oil spill liability at ACC event

Posted on: April 8th, 2013

In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon trial, oil spill liability and compensation issues are being re-examined throughout the world.  Sutherland partners David Baay and Peter Rodgers will speak on a panel at the upcoming ACC Energy Practice Group luncheon on Tuesday, May 7, 2013. The title of their presentation is, “Oil Spill Liability in the U.S. and Abroad.” They will discuss such topics as:

  • Existing United States laws and international regimes regarding oil spill liability and compensation
  • The manner in which the laws have been implemented by regulation and policy
  • What might be expected on the new horizon
  • Possible best practices from the lessons learned so far.

For more information on the event, visit the ACC Houston Chapter website.

Rachel Clingman to discuss crisis management with Greater Houston Partnership

Posted on: January 29th, 2013

Houston attorney Rachel Clingman is set to discuss risk management, crisis management and financial stability at the Greater Houston Partnership’s upcoming meeting on Feb. 6, 2013. She will join a panel of Houston business leaders for the session, “Weathering the Storm: Crisis Management and Achieving Financial Stability.”

To register for this program, please click here.

Sutherland attorneys discuss Dodd-Frank at ACC Best Practices luncheon

Posted on: January 14th, 2013

Sutherland attorneys Rachel Giesber Clingman, Stephanie E. Kinzel-Tapper and R. Michael Sweeney Jr. are speaking on a panel at the ACC Houston Best Practices Luncheon on January 31, 2013. The panel, entitled “Navigating Uncharted Water: Anticipating The Cold Winds Of Dodd-Frank Enforcement” will also feature Jason Flemmons, Senior Managing Director of FTI Consulting and former Deputy Chief Accounting of the SEC’s Division. The panel will cover a variety of topics including:

  • Litigation risks in the U.S. and foreign countries stemming from the SEC’s expanded disclosure requirements for resource extraction issuers
  • SEC enforcement actions under Sarbanes- Oxley section 1-6
  • CFTC enforcement relating to entity classifications and registration, product determinations, enhanced prohibitions on market manipulation and disruptive trading practices

For more information about the program, click here.

David Baay discusses best practices for internal investigations

Posted on: December 19th, 2012

Sutherland Partner David A. Baay was the featured speaker at the Houston Bar Association Litigation Section’s December 18, 2012, meeting. His presentation, “Best Practices for Internal Investigations,” discussed information vital to Houston litigators involved in corporate and internal investigations.

Sutherland lawyers speak at ACC Houston Energy Practice Group luncheon

Posted on: November 9th, 2012

Sutherland attorneys Susan G. Lafferty, Daniella Landers, and R. Michael Sweeney Jr. recently spoke on at the Nov. 8, 2012, ACC Houston Energy Practice Group luncheon. The panel discussion, entitled “Hot Topics in Energy Litigation and Regulatory Enforcement.” discussed emerging U.S. trends in energy litigation and regulatory enforcement while contemplating what might be on the horizon.

To find out more about ACC Houston Energy Practice Group event, click here.

Steve Roberts leads session at IADC Contracts & Risk Management Conference

Posted on: October 17th, 2012

On October 16, 2012, Sutherland Partner Steven L. Roberts moderated a panel discussion at the International Association of Drilling Contractors Contract & Risk Management Conference. Steve was joined by a panel of insurance and energy industry executives discussing how industry standards and changes in law have impacted business post-Macondo.

For more information on the 2012 IADC Contract & Risk Management Conference, click here.