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UCL Launches New MSc Programme on Global Management of Natural Resources

Published: Jan 19, 2016 5:07:52 AM

UCL Australia Graduation 2015

Published: Dec 3, 2015 1:33:45 AM

Santos Scholarship 2016

Published: Sep 22, 2015 2:09:55 AM


UCL Australia
Torrens Building
220 Victoria Square
Adelaide, South Australia, 5000

Tel: +61 8 8110 9960
Fax: +61 8 8212 3039

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Research at UCL Australia

UCL School of Energy and Resources

Research in the School of Energy and Resources focuses on both the upstream and downstream development of energy and resources, covering a wide range of disciplines - from engineering and economics to environmental science and law. 

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Mullard Space Science Laboratory

The Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL) is a world-leading research organisation delivering a broad science programme that is underpinned by a strong capability in space science instrumentation, space-domain engineering, space medicine, systems engineering and project management.

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International Energy Policy Institute

The International Energy Policy Institute (IEPI) was created to address key policy issues in the mineral, energy and resources industries through intensive and innovative research.

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2014 Annual Report

2014 Annual Report cover

Read about all departmental research in the 2014 Annual Report.

Brave New Industry: Re-Characterising Petroleum Joint Venture Risks

Matt R Lady

Matt R Lady BA, LLB (Hons)

Project submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of MSc (Energy and Resources), UCL School of Energy and Resources, Australia


Effectively managing legal risk in the upstream petroleum industry requires the use of complex, precise and sometimes novel contractual arrangements. This dissertation examines two important tools of risk management in this industry: joint ventures and contractual indemnities. Part I examines the nature of the joint venture and the risks associated with this common form of business arrangement in the upstream petroleum industry. I argue that joint venture participants may be exposed to significant legal risk due to the immature development of this form of agreement in Australia. Part II considers critically the role, scope, and enforceability of contractual indemnities in upstream petroleum agreements. In sum, I argue that these essential risk management tools possess hidden dangers and may not be the panaceas to legal risk they are often thought to be. A case study of select upstream contracts is undertaken to demonstrate the hazards of over-reliance on contractual indemnities to manage legal risk and to identify methods to harden indemnities against defeasance. I conclude that contractual indemnities and joint ventures can provide significant benefits to parties to upstream petroleum projects, and, when thoughtfully drafted and executed, they serve as powerful instruments to allocate legal risk and efficiently enable participants to execute complex and capital intensive business ventures. However, as recent events have increased stakeholder scrutiny of upstream firms, there is a pressing need to understand clearly the limitations and risks of joint ventures and contractual indemnities if firms are fully to appreciate their potential liability should disaster strike. This is the goal of this dissertation.