Energy law was a star performer for the sector in the first quarter of 2013.

Only a spate of mega-deals in the technology, media and telecoms space kept energy sector legal work from once again taking the top spot in law firm activity in the first quarter of 2013 according to the latest rankings and data from Mergermarket.

Energy mining and utilities legal work hit a value of $90.9 billion in the first quarter of 2013, the steady nature of work in the sector maintaining its share even as the broader legal sector shrank, in some cases markedly, from total first quarter 2012. Even as energy sector legal revenues slipped in total value in a year-over-year comparison, its share of legal work hit 21.7% and would have been higher if not for “bias due to the mega-deals” in TMT (technology, media and telecoms), Mergermarket said.

“Countries including China are likely competitors for overseas acquisitions of new shale gas export projects in North America. Chinese acquisitions of US targets in the energy, mining and utilities sector hit their highest aggregate value on Mergermarket record in 2012 (US$ 3.9bn),” the report said.

The report detailed further work that law firms are eager to bid for arising from energy sector expertise. “Global energy demand permeates into other sectors such as transport where rail and shipping companies are being acquired to filter into price competitive geographies and avoid pipeline constraints. The transport sector increased 105.8% in deal value (US$ 21.2bn from US$ 10.3bn) with US$ 6.5bn deriving from the US,” the report said.

The top legal event for energy in the first quarter of 2012 was the $6.7 billion sale of Repsol LNG assets to Shell in February. The law firms in the deal included Clifford Chance, Linklaters and the Spanish legal arm of KPMG.

In the US, firms Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Latham and Watkins and Watchell, Lipton Rosen & Katz all were cited as major players in the energy sector in the quarter. To download a full copy of the report via PDF from Mergermarket’s site, click here.

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