"We couldn't find a lawyer to act as local counsel. Every law firm told us they already had too much work and were not taking any more clients," Brown said. "I never thought I would see the day when there weren't enough lawyers."
The oil and gas boom in
Annual revenue for the
More than a dozen major
"It is a very good time to be an energy lawyer in
"I think 2014 is going to be a very active year for oil and gas M&A," he said. "There's still an insatiable appetite out there for capital in the midstream and upstream sectors."
The bullish talk comes after five strong years for energy lawyers and the companies they represent.
From 2009 to 2013, there were 1,369 energy deals completed in the U.S. valued at a total of
"There's a significant need for new pipelines, new drilling wells, new processing plants and lots of assets that need to be developed," Crosstex Energy general counsel
Each company involved in a deal — the buyers, sellers and financial institutions — hires a legal team with anywhere from four to 40 lawyers.
An analysis by The Texas Lawbook has found that more than 3,500 business lawyers in
Losing slick image
Experienced law partners charge between
"Just a few years ago, oil and gas lawyers were viewed by the rest of the legal profession as nothing more than dirt lawyers," said Fredrickson, who has practiced oil and gas transactional law for 28 years. "Now everyone wants to be known as an oil and gas lawyer."
Over the last five years,
"The appetite for buying assets is still there," White said. "There has been a narrowing of focus during the past year as some companies got a little too excited in their acquisitions.
"A lot of companies stepped back in 2013 and did some strategic planning," he said. "As long as there's cash available, these companies are going to be looking for opportunities to grow in targeted areas."
Because capital during those early years was tight, many of the deals were financed through joint ventures with nationalized energy companies from
Those deals slowed considerably in 2013, as E&P companies re-evaluated their assets and market positions and as money became more accessible through the capital markets.
"The amount of foreign interest in investments seems to be significantly on the wane, and we are seeing a lot of private equity funds filling the smaller and midsized deals," said
In fact, Berg closed the last large international joint venture when Pioneer engineered a
The overall number of energy transactions was high in 2013, but there were no blockbuster mergers or acquisitions. Berg and others predict that most deals this year will range from a few hundred million dollars to single-digit billions.
"There are a bunch of energy companies in the
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