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Energy, commodities and derivatives regulation and enforcement


Norton Rose Fulbright’s energy, commodities and derivatives team provides a full range of regulatory, enforcement and investigation services. Our lawyers have extensive experience with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Department of Energy (DOE), regional transmission organizations and independent system operators. Many of our lawyers have held senior positions with these regulatory authorities or with energy companies, market infrastructure operators, or trading organizations. Our team has experience that cuts across each sector of the energy regulatory chain. We understand the business, and we leverage a diverse range of backgrounds in order to provide clients with multi-discipline legal services to meet their specific needs. Our significant experience working at, and interfacing with, relevant regulatory authorities enables our lawyers to efficiently guide clients through complex regulatory, compliance and enforcement matters.

We deliver

Our experienced regulatory, enforcement and investigations team can help you navigate through the evolving US regulatory landscape and complex enforcement-related environment. We continually monitor regulatory and compliance developments and advise clients on matters involving all aspects of energy, physical commodity, and derivatives laws and regulations. In particular, we have been actively involved in the rulemaking proceedings at the CFTC relating to the Dodd-Frank financial reforms, and have advised a wide range of clients on Dodd-Frank compliance and enforcement-related issues. And our lawyers have a proven track record of advising natural gas marketers and other market participants on FERC regulatory compliance issues and representing clients in non-public FERC investigations.

We work closely with our US and non-US colleagues throughout the Norton Rose Fulbright network to provide coordinated solutions for our clients. Our team is uniquely positioned to provide clients with effective representation on complex cross-sector and multi-jurisdictional issues, which is increasingly important due to the global nature of many businesses and overlapping regulatory regimes.  

We regularly represent financial institutions, energy companies (including natural gas, LNG, oil, and power companies), and financial and energy trade associations before the CFTC and FERC. We represent private equity funds, broker-dealers, asset managers, futures commission merchants, and swap dealers, as well as market infrastructure operators (e.g., exchanges, clearinghouses, swap execution facilities, and trade repositories), in all regulatory aspects of their operations. Our trading, marketing and operations lawyers have experience in commercial matters and financial instruments involving the full spectrum of asset classes from physical energy, metals and agricultural commodities to interest rates and foreign currencies.

We regularly provide the following services:

  • represent companies and individuals in formal and informal investigations and inquiries before the CFTC, FERC and related regulatory and self-regulatory authorities. These matters range from broad and complex investigations relating to perceived market manipulation to FERC reviews of tariff compliance
  • advise clients on the full spectrum of CFTC regulations, including registration requirements and exemptions from registration
  • provide advice on domestic and cross-border regulatory issues, including in-depth regulatory risk assessments, compliance counseling, training and the development and assessment of regulatory compliance programs
  • assist financial and non-financial market participants in negotiating and documenting physical commodity and derivatives transactions, including swaps documented under ISDA Master Agreements
  • prepare submissions and comment letters involving proposed rules and interpretations to regulatory authorities on behalf of our clients
  • represent clients in a full array of FERC proceedings including power, LNG, natural gas and oil pipeline permitting, regulation and enforcement
  • prepare open access electric and natural gas pipeline FERC tariffs, authorization to charge market-based rates, negotiation of market-based and negotiated-rate precedent agreements and service agreements, cost allocation and rate design issues, stranded cost recovery; and open access requirements
  • advise a wide array of industry participants in retail and wholesale industry restructuring activities before the Texas Public Utility Commission, and in litigation arising out of PUC regulation, including investor-owned utilities

Our areas of CFTC work

  • represented several US and non-US individuals and companies, including senior executives, traders, and a North American independent oil and gas company, in responding to CFTC subpoenas and investigations
  • assisted providers of retail, wholesale, midstream and storage energy services in defending against investigations and disciplinary proceedings brought by futures exchanges
  • assisted several US and non-US companies, including a New York introducing broker, with responses to CFTC special calls and inquiries
  • assisted several US and non-US companies with regulatory training as well as development of compliance programs and changes to business processes in relation to Dodd-Frank, CFTC, and exchange requirements
  • assisted several global trading companies and manufacturers in assessing the impact of Dodd-Frank derivatives reforms and CFTC regulations (including position limits), including swap dealer registration analysis, product assessment, and examination of cross-border application of Dodd-Frank swap requirements
  • assisted a European multinational oil and gas company in assessing the impact of Dodd-Frank derivatives reforms and reviewing regulatory compliance gap analysis
  • advised one of the largest futures exchanges and clearinghouses on regulatory and compliance matters involving the CFTC
  • advised a global market infrastructure operator on a non-US trade repository license application
  • advised electronic trading platforms with all aspects of the registration process for swap execution facilities and foreign boards of trade
  • advised a British multilateral trading facility on requirements to register in the US and to permit trading by US affiliate
  • advised a multinational commodity company on regulatory implications of contemplated corporate restructuring for CFTC registrations as a swap dealer, futures commission merchant, and introducing broker
  • assisted a registered futures commission merchant with implementation of, and compliance with, Basel III capital requirements, and alternative clearing models
  • provided regulatory advice concerning establishing a multilateral netting and risk management platform for OTC derivatives
  • advised one of the largest US publicly traded master limited partnerships on CFTC matters, including compliance issues, position limits and CFTC enforcement matters
  • advised a US-based fertilizer manufacturing and distribution company regarding Dodd-Frank derivatives reforms and CFTC regulatory compliance
  • advised an LNG-focused energy company regarding US regulations applicable to energy trading and derivatives activities, including FERC and Dodd-Frank compliance requirements
  • advised a US interstate pipeline trade association on impacts of Dodd-Frank on members’ business activities, including application of swap definition to energy transportation and storage agreements
  • assisted asset management and energy trade associations in preparation of comment letters to CFTC
  • advised a US company regarding protection of client funds in MF Global bankruptcy proceedings
  • advised a US pension trustee regarding futures account agreements and clearing addendums

 Our recent FERC work

  • represented client in FERC Enforcement investigation of generator interconnection and participation in ISO market
  • counseled client on capacity market design issues and proposed changes, including the potential application and design of mitigation measures
  • represented Gulf Coast-based client in proceedings before the FERC to obtain the first authorization issued in the continental US to site, construct and operate facilities for the liquefaction and export of domestic natural gas and before the DOE to obtain authorization to export domestic natural gas as LNG
  • obtained FERC certificate authorization to construct, expand and operate a 195-mile, 42-inch interstate natural gas pipeline
  • represent West Coast-based client in proceedings before the FERC and DOE to obtain authorizations to site, construct and operate a bidirectional LNG Project to export both Canadian and US-sourced natural gas as LNG, and to import LNG for vaporization and delivery to US customers when market conditions warrant
  • represent multiple clients on the Gulf Coast, East Coast and in the Caribbean before the FERC and DOE  to obtain authorizations to site, construct and operate  LNG import, export and bidirectional terminals and associated pipeline facilities
  • represent large energy company in obtaining authorization from the FERC to construct and operate a 711-mile, 36-inch interstate natural gas pipeline extending from the Marcellus and Utica shale supply to a point of interconnection with the Vector Pipeline system in Livingston County, Michigan
  • represented pipeline company in various aspects related to the permitting and commercial development of a greenfield interstate natural gas pipeline, consisting of approximately 150 miles of a 48-inch diameter pipeline on the Gulf Coast, as well as in the development of FERC standards of conduct.

Awards and accolades

  • Best Law Firms, Tier 1 national rankings for energy law, natural resources law and oil & gas law, US News & World Report and Best Lawyers, 2016
  • Chambers Global, Latin America-wide: Projects, Chambers & Partners, 2016
  • Chambers Global, USA: Energy: Oil & Gas (Regulatory & Litigation), Chambers & Partners, 2016
  • Chambers Global, USA: Energy: Oil & Gas (Transactional), Chambers & Partners, 2016
  • Chambers Global, USA: Projects: Oil & Gas, Chambers & Partners, 2016
  • Chambers Global, USA: Projects: LNG, Chambers & Partners, 2016
  • Chambers Global, USA: Projects: PPP, Chambers & Partners, 2016
  • Chambers Global, USA: Projects: Power, Chambers & Partners, 2016
  • Chambers USA, Nationwide: Energy: Oil & Gas (Regulatory & Litigation), Chambers & Partners, 2016
  • Chambers USA, Nationwide: Energy: Oil & Gas (Transactional), Chambers & Partners, 2016
  • Chambers USA, Nationwide: Projects: LNG, Chambers & Partners, 2016
  • Chambers USA, Nationwide: Projects: Oil & Gas, Chambers & Partners, 2016
  • Chambers USA, Nationwide: Projects: PPP, Chambers & Partners, 2016
  • International Legal Alliance Summit & Awards, Best US Law Firm, project finance, infrastructure and energy, Leaders League, 2016
  • International Legal Alliance Summit & Awards, silver award for project finance, infrastructure and energy, Leaders League, 2015
  • Legal 500 Latin America, International Firms: Projects and Energy, The Legal 500, 2016
  • Legal 500 US, Nationwide Energy: Litigation, The Legal 500, 2016
  • Legal 500 US, Nationwide Energy: Transactions, The Legal 500, 2016
  • Legal 500 US, Nationwide Energy: Regulatory, The Legal 500, 2016