Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module LAW41015: Law of Oil and Gas Contracts

Department: Law

LAW41015: Law of Oil and Gas Contracts

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap


  • Prerequisites for L6K807 students - they must also take the compulary law module "Applied Research Methods in Law". It is the LLM Directors discretion whether a student can be exempt from taking the compulsary module.


Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • This course aims to provide the student with an introduction to the field of commercial exploitation of natural resources as exemplified by so-called oil contracts, with a special focus on cross-jurisdictional issues and the Arab world


  • Historical and legal background of Oil Contracts, including impact of local political imperatives and managing parties’ interests when forming contracts.
  • Overview of the main instruments and contract types used within the oil industry, including Joint Operating Agreements and Buy-Back Contracts. Review of the major regulatory framework.
  • Analysis of obligations and liabilities under contracts between host governments and oil investors, including allocation of liability for agreed quality and output.
  • Comparative overview of cross-jurisdictional oil contracts: challenges of conforming to local regulation and transacting in the Arab world.
  • Overview of dispute resolution methods within oil contracts, including difficulties arising from cross-border arbitration and litigation.
  • Possibility of consolidating oil contracts: the United Nations Model Oil Contracts.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will gain an in-depth knowledge of the various regulatory and contractual frameworks, challenges faced in multi-jurisdictional contracts, means of enforcing oil contracts and models developed by international organisations for the purpose of consolidating oil contracts.
  • Students will develop a critical understanding of the legal and political, issues underlying the formation of oil contracts, including the practical realities of operating within idiosyncratic local legal systems
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Employ materials from the range of sources concerning oil contracts within multiple legal systems. Students will be able to work with a variety of international and comparative law materials in the area of petroleum law, including practitioner and business information. They will be able to apply general principles in petroleum law to evaluate sample oil contracts. They will understand the historical, political, and diplomatic contexts in which certain oil contracts have developed and the continuing controversies surrounding petroleum collaboration with foreign companies.
  • Students will be able to undertake research in international and comparative law materials in the area of oil contracts.
Key Skills:
  • Students will be able to:
  • Undertake independent research.
  • Demonstrate an ability to understand and critically analyse complex issues of international and comparative law

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Seminars are designed to introduce students to central issues in the law of oil contracts, including both theoretical and practical issues. Seminars will include structured reading lists of academic literature and international and comparative law materials which students will use to prepare for classroom discussion. Discussion in seminars will focus on historical, political, cultural and economic issues underlying oil contracts, with a special focus on the Arab world. Students will develop their ability to present and evaluate critically arguments in relation to the law of exploitation of oil resources.
  • Assessment by essay will develop students' abilities to undertake research in international and comparative law materials in the area of oil contracts, and to think critically and engage with debates in a cogent way. They will be able to work independently to develop their research and arguments. The essay also develops written communication skills through the structure and presentation of a sustained argument in answer to an essay question

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 8 Weekly 2 hours 16
Preparation and Reading 134
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
essay of 3,000 words 3,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Students will have an opportunity to complete an essay of no more than 1500 words

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University