Oil drives many economies, from China to India to Japan and even the United States. As such an important resource, disagreements and sometimes armed conflicts are likely to result in the need for an oil or gas lawyer. Thus, legal jobs involving these two natural resources are in demand. According to insiders in the legal field, growth in the field looks exponential predicated on the burgeoning support for more oil and gas exploration in the United States. As land right advocates will want to oppose the legal acquisition of areas to be explored, the need for lawyers who understand gas and oil issues will be paramount.
Furthermore, projections have shown that the legal job market will experience the fastest growth up to 2014. New graduates of law need to take note: This also means that they must be armed with the best in legal training to be able to compete in the legal market as a gas or oil lawyer. Thus must prove an above average understanding of the intricacies and politics surrounding the resource and its chemical derivatives as well.
Defending Clients in Legal Tussles over Natural Resources
Natural resources have a finite supply, with oil and gas reserves concentrated primarily in the Middle East, Russia, and to some extent the United States. Yet it is also true that a greater number of people are competing for these resources, with more than 5 billion people in the world. This portends an increased competition for these resources. Competing clients could include individuals and communities who feel the exploitation of natural resources from their land is harmful to their environment or the benefits accrued by the mining authority should be made available to them. Alternatively, gas lawyers will find work in drawing up standard lease forms concerning gas and oil. Oil lawyers who have an experience drafting these agreements affirm that things are really looking up in this area.
The increased activity is evident throughout the world. For example, when the United States installed a democratic government in Iraq, laws dealing in gas and oil were specifically targeted to address the skewed resource allocation that existed before the change of guard. Obviously, gas and oil lawyers—especially those from the United States and Iraq—were busy. Meanwhile, in Russia and its former central Asia republics, oil and gas form the major resource sustaining, at times, a national sovereignty. In these countries—especially in Russia—lawyers involved in the two most important resources—gas and oil—face a bright future both in terms of the legal contracts from major players like Gazprom and TNK-BP and the current spate of bad blood in the ownership of the TNK-BP. In addition, Gazprom sometimes ignites commercial wars with countries in Europe—especially Ukraine—over its plans to stop the gas flow. All these emerging issues can be utilized as opportunities for lawyers to practice their trade.
Global Players and Their Legal Battles
Throughout the world, major corporations involved in gas and oil, for example Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and others, have to deal with legal issues all the time. This is a good time to be an oil or gas lawyer. Royal Dutch Shell is embroiled in struggles with the Ogoni community because its pipelines are continually blown up by militants who believe the community must share more in the natural resource wealth. In Texas, a center of gas and oil business in the United States, legal jobs as an oil and gas lawyer
are many. Quite often, they have to act on behalf of oil corporations accused of environmental degradation and air pollution in the state.
The gas and oil industry is also a driver and quite often a catalyst for other industries, like transportation. For example, oil corporations will likely profit heavily from the emerging trends of the increased number of airlines with large and long-haul airplanes. The strong movement towards petro-chemical products and byproducts that have given birth to plastics all around us ignites passionate debates among environmental activists and is an issue a gas or oil lawyer cannot afford to ignore. A lawyer well conversant with laws dealing with gas and oil is also needed during the acquisition of any real estate and mineral right issues that surround exploitation of the resources from those pieces of land.
The industry dealing in gas and oil is here to stay—and will even outlive expectations that it will die out with alternative sources of energy, such as wind and nuclear technologies. Alternative energy sources have yet to go into mass market production. Therefore, gas and oil lawyers can still land legal jobs and projects in this driving industry.