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March 23, 2011 7:28 PM

Six Firms Score Work on Trio of Energy Deals

Posted by Brian Baxter

Deals in the energy sector have been hot for the past several months and the pace isn't letting up. Three energy deals totaling nearly $3 billion in value were announced this week by companies based in Texas.

A joint venture comprised of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners and Regency Energy Partners has agreed to pay more than $1.9 billion in cash to acquire pipeline and natural gas liquids storage and processing plants, according to Dow Jones Newswires and the Oil & Gas Journal, a trade publication.

Wilton, Conn.-based Louis Dreyfus Highbridge Energy (LDHE), the energy arm of privately owned commodities trader Louis Dreyfus Group, is selling the intrastate pipeline system, refined products, and petrochemical storage facilities in Texas and Mississippi to the joint venture. (The New York Times notes that JPMorgan Chase hedge fund unit Highbridge Capital Management, which recently bought a controlling stake in a big Brazilian hedge fund, bought a stake in Dreyfus's energy group in 2007.)

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher corporate partner Barbara Becker and associates Brian Gingold and Saee Muzumdar are advising LDHE on the deal. Former Baker & McKenzie and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld partner Steven Scheinman serves as LDHE's general counsel and chief compliance officer.

G. Michael O'Leary, cochair of the corporate practice at Andrews Kurth in Houston, is leading a team from the firm advising the ETP/Regency joint venture that includes tax partners Robert McNamara and Thomas Ford, Jr., environmental partner Lisa Ford, and employee benefits partner L. Lee McMurtry III. Last year, the firm advised ETP on a $300 million acquisition of a general partner's interest in Regency. (Energy Transfer Equity owns the general partner of both Regency and ETP.)

Regency's chief legal officer is Paul Jolas, while ETP's general counsel is Thomas Mason, a former partner at Andrews Kurth and Vinson & Elkins.

Vinson is advising Anadarko Petroleum on its $575.5 million acquisition of a controlling stake in a Colorado natural gas plant from embattled British energy giant BP, announced early this week. The London-based company has been busy selling off assets to raise $30 billion in capital to offset damages from last year's massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Vinson energy transactions partner James Tipton, Jr., and associate Brian Brantley are advising Anadarko on the acquisition of BP's Wattenberg plant, which takes in natural gas from the Denver Julesburg Basin, according to Anadarko. Earlier this week Vinson advised another client, South Korean energy giant KNOC, on a $1.55 billion shale deal with Anadarko in Texas.

Representing BP on the agreement with Anadarko are Gardere Wynne Sewell energy industry head Douglas Eyberg, corporate partner Jane Hammond, tax partner John Woodruff, real estate partner Randall Jones, and associates Eunice Song and Rex Baker IV. Eyberg and Vinson previously advised BP on its $7 billion asset sale to Houston-based oil and gas company Apache.

BP and LDHE weren't the only companies to announce energy deals this week.

On Tuesday, Houston-based Harvest Natural Resources announced an agreement to sell its oil and gas assets in Utah's Uinta Basin to Newfield Exploration for $215 million in cash. Houston-based Newfield is spending about $308 million to acquire the 70,000 acres in Uinta Basin from Harvest and an unidentified third company, Reuters reports.

Jon Ray, head of the energy and natural resources department at Cox Smith Matthews in San Antonio, and partner Tobin Olson are advising Newfield on the deal. Newfield general counsel John Marziotti, a former partner at Strasburger & Price, is heading up matters in-house, along with legal counsel Andrew Bremner.

Fulbright & Jaworski corporate partners Harva Dockery and Craig Vogelsang and senior finance counsel Roger Harris are advising Harvest on the transaction. Harvest's general counsel is Keith Head. The deal is expected to close in May.

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