Petroleum products and related chemicals touch the lives of virtually every human being, every day, and for countless purposes. Despite increased demand for these products, petroleum and chemical companies face extensive government oversight and a growing docket of permit challenges and litigation by environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) and other opponents. To address these complex challenges, petroleum and chemicals clients require legal counsel with a deep understanding of these highly technical industries and the laws and administrative policies governing them.

The Petroleum and Chemicals team at Hunton & Williams LLP has decades of experience advising clients in these related industry sectors. Our lawyers represent oil and gas producers, refiners, transporters, distributors, and retailers, as well as mineral processing and basic chemical companies whose products — such as sulfuric acid, nitric acid, ammonia and phosphates — are key ingredients in the processing of crude oil and natural gas and in the production of consumer products and basic commodities critical to the global economy, including chemical fertilizers and crop protection products.

We advise businesses at every step in the movement and processing of goods from natural resource to finished product, including exploration, extraction, processing, smelting, refining, transportation, distribution and sales. Likewise, we help clients in all aspects of their dealings with state, federal and foreign governments across the United States and abroad, whether helping influence emerging legislation and policy, ensuring compliance with agency guidelines and regulations, supporting project permitting or transactional due diligence, or responding to government enforcement investigations and litigation.

Our petroleum and chemical industry practice, comprises nearly 75 lawyers working in administrative law and 50 focused on environmental matters. Our presence in Washington is also significant, enabling us to represent clients on Capitol Hill and in the field with equal effectiveness. Among our team members are lawyers highly trained as scientists and engineers, including partners who have worked as chemical engineers, at refineries, chemical plants and nuclear power plants. We understand the science behind the law and are able to communicate clearly with technical consultants, facility engineers, senior executives, lawmakers, agency personnel, judges and juries.

We recognize that large petroleum and chemical companies are often targeted by plaintiffs and ENGOs seeking to maximize attention to their causes. Beyond our legal experience, our team also brings to the table significant experience helping clients manage relations with government, the media and the public, often teaming with a network of professional consultants to minimize negative publicity and adverse reputational impacts.

We represent clients regarding the full range of environmental laws affecting their international and domestic operations, including the Clean Water Act (CWA), Clean Air Act (CAA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund), Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and other regulations, treaties and standards impacting their regional and global business objectives. In addition, we advise clients on other regulatory laws affecting the management and transportation of these operations, including the Pipeline Safety Act, Hazardous Materials Transportation Act, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

When legal challenges arise, whether from counterparties, individuals, ENGOs, domestic or international plaintiffs' counsel, state agencies and attorneys general, federal agencies or the U.S. Department of Justice, we draw on our highly skilled litigation and enforcement defense attorneys, and a network of technical experts and local counsel, to mount a strong defense of our clients' interests. We have practiced in jurisdictions from coast to coast and at every level of federal and state trial and appellate courts, and have advised clients on disputes across the globe. We also help clients develop mitigation plans to minimize challenges and legal exposure related to their operations, projects, mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and other transactions. We advise individuals and entities on methods to ensure that unnecessary information does not enter the record, where it may be used by opponents in future litigation and appeals.

Our interdisciplinary team also provides comprehensive counsel on the full range of import/export and other issues that affect the movement of materials across borders and overseas, from construction and permitting of processing facilities and distribution terminals to compliance with inland and coastal waterways protections. Internationally, we perform due diligence for large-scale development projects and transactions, including assessing environmental and toxic tort legal exposure, interfacing with local counsel in foreign jurisdictions to pursue necessary governmental approvals, and defending any ensuing litigation or governmental enforcement proceedings related to such operations. Our environmental lawyers often work closely with the firm’s corporate and finance team to provide comprehensive transactional due diligence services, and to structure and negotiate the terms of M&A deals, project finance, debt finance and other lending transactions with project sponsors, banks, investors and creditors.

Insights