The inauguration of the Norwegian Oil and Energy Arbitration Association

November 2013 marked the establishment ofthe Norwegian Oil and Energy Arbitration Association (NOEAA) in Oslo. The aim of this association is to collectively enhance the attractiveness of Norway as an international arbitration venue and to connect Norway’s most eminent and experienced arbitrators, counsel, mediators and experts with a wide range of expertise in energy law.

The NOEAA is not an arbitration institution, but rather an independent professional association financed through the subscription fees received from its members. NOEAA membership is open to independent legal practitioners and academics in the field of international energy arbitration. The expertise of NOEAA members is in energy disputes that are often referred to arbilraLi n, for xample, in areas of: exploration and r rodu tion agr ments between oil ompani ; cone si n related matters between host country governments and both national oil companies (NOCs) and independent oil companies; gas sales contracts; construction contracts; floating production storage and offloading (FPS01l and drilling rig contracts; energy insurance; independent power generation plants; regulated utilities, renewable energy; interconnectors; oil and energy corporate transactions; investment treaty disputes; downstream/refining, marketing/ distribution, as well as contracts relating to the sale and purchase of companies and assets in the energy business.

Norway’s petroleum industry has gained worldwide recognition as one of the world’s most successful undertakings in the field. It has a highly sophisticated regulatory framework and contractual practices that are regarded as some of the world’s best industry standards. Energy production, in all its facets, is a mainstay of the Norwegian economy, from the development of hydroelectric engineering projects more than 100 years ago, through to the development of Norway’s offshore petroleum resources, and today’s focus on renewable energy sources. This economic activity draws upon Norwegian private and public law, which have a well-established tradition of balancing business and State interests.

Arbitration has been the main dispute resolution instrument in these industries. Many Norwegian lawyers have longterm experience handling national and international arbitrations. Norwegian law can be described as a modern civil law approach with strong common law influences. Such elements are important to international disputes, particularly contractual disputes. Thus, Norwegian lawyers possess the ability to integrate other legal systems into their decision-making (arbitrators) or case-building (counsels) in a manner that is not overly confined to a specific jurisdiction or legal tradition. With their background, Norwegian lawyers would also be suitable to act as mediators in international disputes.

An important factor in resolving energy disputes is knowledge of the practical commercial and technical realities underlying contracts. Norwegian lawyers possess this industry knowledge, frequently advising oil companies and service providers in their activities worldwide, as well as governments in other oil producing countries in respect of regulatory and contractual matters.

NOCs may prefer to appoint Norwegian arbitrators because they are not seen to be closely associated with the larger multinational oil companies where disputes frequently involve counsel and arbitrators from the North American and/ or UK legal markets. From the perspe~tive of NOCs, Norwegian arbitrators not only possess the required industry expertise, but they are also comparatively neutral and trained to meet international standard of a ‘fair trial’. A further advantage in this regard is that Norwegian lawyers are from an oil-producingjurisdiction. From the perspective of independent oil companies and energy purchasers, Norway is a Western industrialised country with a strong internationally oriented business culture and a market-oriented legal system. Given Norway’s comparatively smaller legal market and long-term experience in the oil and gas sector, Norwegian lawyers are accustomed to highly confidential and sensitive disputes. Moreover, since Norwegian law firms have traditionally serviced Scandinavian clients, fewer conflicts of interest may arise when appointing Norwegian arbitrators or counsel in international energy disputes. Norwegian arbitrators are generally considered costeffective and time efficient. Last but not least, Norwegian lawyers are fluent in English.

Norway is suitable as a jurisdiction and venue for international arbitrations. The Norwegian Arbitration Act 2004 (NAA) applies to domestic and international arbitrations seated in Norway.2 The NAA is based on the 1985 United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration. In Norway, arbitration agreements are also subject to international conventions. In 1961, Norway ratified the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. Norway also signed the Convention on the Settlement oflnvestment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States.

The lack of promotion of Norway as an international arbitration venue under the auspices of an internationally recognised arbitration institute has previously been a restricting factor in establishing Norway as an attractive venue with the reputation it deserves. The NOEAA aspires to change this. For the reasons described above, the NOEAA endeavours to highlight the potential opportunities for Norwegian lawyers to contribute to international energy arbitration whilst seeking to collaborate with established arbitration institutes, other energy law practitioners or scholars worldwide. The NOEAA website shall be launched in 2014.

NOEAA is led by a Board of Directors of 5 persons. To become a member ofNOEAA, an individual must meet certain minimum requirements in respect of professional expertise and experience. The NOEAA website will give access to information about all members including information about their professional background and core expertise.


l Floating Production Storage and Offloading unit. 2 Oslo Chamber of Commerce, Authorised {English} translation of The Norwegian Arbitration Act of 14 May 2004, available from: http:/ / arbitration+ dispute_resolution/translation_norwegian_ arbitration_act/ [last accessed?] – INTERNATIONAL BAR ASSOC IATION LEGAL PRACTICE DIVISION