Hughes, Fields & Stoby, the largest law firm in Guyana, has opened an office in Houston targeting oil and gas companies doing business in the South American country where a consortium led by ExxonMobil recently started offshore drilling.
Gregory Clark, who earlier in his career worked overseas for Occidental Petroleum Co., is a new partner with Hughes Fields and is, for now, the only attorney based in the Houston office.
Clark started working for the firm in July, although Hughes Fields officially launched the Texas outpost at the end of September. The Houston office is technically not a branch office of Hughes Fields but is instead a Texas legal entity that is licensing the firm’s name and is organized as Hughes, Fields & Stoby (USA) PLLC, Clark said.
Hughes Fields is a full-service firm in Guyana, which is located on the east coast of South America just southeast of Venezuela. it has a strong oil and gas industry practice, Clark said.
“They represent all the major players, all the significant players in the oil and gas industry,” he said. “The purpose of setting up the law firm in Houston is to continue to provide good service for those firms but also attract new oil and gas firms.”
Clark said Hughes Fields sees huge opportunity in the wake of the consortium’s recent offshore discovery.
“Guyana is in the middle of a major oil and gas boom. ExxonMobil has made a significant discovery. Of their last 11 wells, nine have hit, They are boasting of discovery reserves of four billion barrels,” he said.
C.A. Nigel Hughes, a partner with Hughes Fields in Georgetown, Guyana, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Clark will not be practicing law in Guyana. He said his role is to advise companies, particularly those in the energy industry, who are looking to do business in Guyana. He will introduce them to the right players in the Guyana government and in the private sector.
“Long before a potential investor even arrives in Guyana, the law offices of Hughes, Fields & Stoby will now be on hand in Houston, Texas, to guide clients through what could be a complex process of establishing business relationships in Guyana,” the firm said in a statement about the new office.
Clark’s most recent position in law was not related to oil and gas. He spent the last 17 years as area legal counsel and regional legal counsel for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in such places as Mexico City; Lima, Peru; Sao Paulo; and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. While working for the church in the Dominican Republic from 2015 through June, he used Hughes Fields as outside counsel. When he decided to retire from his job with the church, Hughes persuaded him to join the firm as a partner and open an office in Houston.
“It was a good fit for Nigel and the law firm,” Clark said. “I’ve got 16 years oil and gas experience.”
Clark said he worked for three years with ExxonMobil and 13 years with Occidental Petroleum in Quito, Ecuador and Doha, Qatar.
Hughes Fields has U.S. clients in the oil and gas sector, and Clark noted that to his knowledge it is the only firm from Guyana with an office in Houston.