James Loftis


Partner, Vinson & Elkins RLLP
James Loftis chairs V&E's International Dispute Resolution practice, and focuses his practice on international commercial arbitration and investor-state disputes, including disputes involving public international law. His practice includes disputes involving all aspects of energy, infrastructure development and construction, and disputes under investment laws and treaties, as well as boundary disputes, cross-border technology disputes and sovereign debt. He also represents and advises clients in reviews under U.S. national security law (CFIUS) and anti-corruption law (FCPA) and in international and cross-border litigation, including arbitral award enforcement in a number of jurisdictions.

He is a member of the ICC Commission on Arbitration, is listed in Global Arbitration Review, is listed in Legal Media Group's (Euromoney's) Expert Guide to Commercial Arbitration, and is ranked in international arbitration in Chambers Global, Chambers UK, and Chambers USA. Also, he is listed in The Best Lawyers in America® for international arbitration. From 1997 to 2000, James served in Geneva, Switzerland, as chief counsel for the Oil Sector and Construction and Engineering Panels of the United Nations Compensation Commission (the Iraq/Gulf War claims tribunal). James is also an adjunct professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law, where he teaches international investment law and international arbitration. In addition, James is Chair of the Advisory Board for the Center for Global Energy, International Arbitration and Environmental Law at the University of Texas School of Law.

James is a frequent speaker on cross-border issues in the Arctic Region, particularly involving oil and gas and boundary delimitation, and is the co-editor of the forthcoming OGEL Special Edition Arctic Region: Boundaries, Resources and the Promise of Co-operation.

James maintains offices in London and in Houston, and is admitted in Texas and in the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts. 

Presentation Abstract
“Maritime Boundaries and Hydrocarbon Field Development in the Arctic”

The speaker argues that an effective legal framework for oil and gas exploration and exploitation must address two principal concerns: delimitation of international boundaries and rules for developing fields that may be under the territories of two or more states.
Delimitation is adequately covered by the existing framework and should not cause concern, because the majority of Arctic oil and gas resources either lie within single state’s sovereign land, or cross already delimited boundaries. 

Remaining boundaries can be delimited based on well-established principles.  Furthermore, the economic and political pressures impelling oil and gas production will ensure states turn their minds to the question of maritime boundary delimitation.

As for cross-boundary hydrocarbon-resource exploitation, the set of rules were sparse until the 2010 Barents Sea Agreement between Norway and Russia, which represents the state-of-the-art bilateral treaty that will effectively address cross-border hydrocarbon-field exploitation. 

This approach is expected to be preferred by the Arctic states.  Following on the 2010 Barents Sea Agreement, other useful practices at a finer level of detail will likely form precedent for future bilateral treaties. Unitization agreements and Joint Operating Agreements, including those among private parties, will provide the finer details of field-level treaties or protocols.

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