CMS acted as transaction counsel to Equinor on its sale to BP of 50% of its interests in the Empire Wind and Beacon Wind assets on the US east coast for over USD 1 billion. The transaction is part of BP’s energy transition strategy as it transforms itself from being an oil supermajor to becoming a broader energy company incorporating clean energy assets and operations into its business. The two companies also established a strategic partnership for further growth within offshore wind in the US, which has already resulted in further project successes in the US market.
As the transaction related to some of the first offshore wind projects in the USA, CMS was selected to lead the drafting and negotiations due to our deep expertise in offshore wind projects and transactions in Europe and Asia. The transaction was led at CMS by Munir Hassan, Head of the CMS Energy & Climate Change Group, and Charles Currier, Co-head of Corporate at CMS UK.
Paul Fulton, legal head of Equinor’s renewables team, said, “This is the first time we have tried to export our UK partnership structure to the US and this would not have been possible in the timeframe without the excellent and pragmatic approach of CMS and Bracewell. We now have a strong partnership to grow our business in the US.”
Munir Hassan noted, “This transaction allowed CMS to assist Equinor in applying the approaches we and they have developed on European and Asian offshore wind projects and transactions to the nascent offshore wind market in America, and help to shape the emerging practice there.”
Charles Currier added, “This was a complex multi-jurisdictional transaction involving UK and US counsel on both sides. It was conducted seamlessly using virtual platforms, pushing the technology to its limits, and demonstrated the agility of the legal profession to respond to shifting demands during the lockdown.”
CMS advises Equinor on BP wind partnership in the US
CMS has advised international energy company Equinor on its agreement with BP to sell 50% of its interests in the Empire Wind and Beacon Wind assets on the US east coast for a total consideration of USD 1.1bn. BP will also partner on US offshore wind going forward, with the Empire & Beacon projects alone comprising a USD 10bn investment to take to commercial operation.
This truly international deal was particularly notable for CMS due to it being entirely governed by New York law. As these types of transactions relate to the first offshore wind projects in the USA, CMS was selected to lead the drafting and negotiations due to our deep expertise in offshore wind projects and transactions. This demonstrates that depth of sectoral experience, consistent with CMS’s sector focused strategy, can be the crucial deciding factor for clients in choosing external counsel on business-critical projects and transactions.
The deal has received considerable coverage and extensive comment across the media, including frontpage news articles in many newspapers, including the Financial Times. It is the first step toward BP’s recently announced plan to have 50 gigawatts of renewables in its portfolio by 2030, and further opens up the divide between progressive oil companies looking to transition to become integrated energy companies, and those that remained focused on hydrocarbons.