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JASON HUF INTERNATIONAL, pc

"Exploring the Boundaries
 
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New York, New York
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+1 (917) 775-0198 (p)
+1 (646) 395-1725 (f)

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JEDDAH

Khalil Khazindar Law Firm
in Association with
JASON HUF INTERNATIONAL pc
Ammar Commercial Center

Al Murjan Street (off of King Abdul Aziz Street), Office # 202
P.O. Box 157,  Jeddah  21411
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
+966 (2) 4204763 (p)
+966 (2) 4204729 (f)
www.khazindarlaw.com
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info@huflaw.com

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  • Eid Al Adha, Labor Day & Observance of the Anniversary of September 11

    JHI wishes our many friends in the Muslim world a happy Eid Al Adha holiday. To those able to perform Hajj rites, congratulations.  We would also like to advise clients and friends who do not observe this holiday to expect delays in certain services due to office closures - particularly banks and government offices - throughout the Middle East region during the holiday, which is scheduled to begin at sundown on Friday, September 1, 2017.
    In the United States, to all those who labor, have a happy Labor Day weekend. JHI will keep its doors closed until Tuesday, September 5. In the case of urgent matters, Mr. Huf will be available remotely during the weekend, including Monday, September 4.

    JHI ordinarily issues bills for professional services rendered during the previous month on the first business day of the following month. However, for only the second time in the Firm's history thus far, we will issue August's invoices on the second business day of the month (in this instance, September 5).

    Liberty Tower - World Trade Center (WTC), NYC, NY, USA   [ Never Forget:  Liberty ALWAYS Rises ]

    Per Firm custom, at 5:00pm on Thursday, September 7, JHI's NYC HQ will close again, this time in observance of the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks on our country. We will reopen our doors on Tuesday, September 12.
    On September 11, we honor and remember those loved ones and fellow countrymen lost to sudden and senseless evil. But, there is never a day wherein we forget.

    The best way to honor them, especially in New York - the greatest city in the world, is to LIVE (in every sense of the word). To that end, coming soon, we will publish Mr. Huf's report on a productive and enjoyable summer (well, really, a very good year thus far it seems) as part of our Work-Life Balance series. This will be followed by a note on the famously "tax-free" United Arab Emirates' imposition of a tax scheme, including a Value Added Tax and certain Excise Taxes. We also plan, in the very near future, to introduce JHI's new Youtube channel; and, provide on update on EB-5 (Investor) Visas & legal services related to applications for such.

    Mr. Huf at Madain Saleh, Hijaz, Saudi Arabia  (Another day at the office... Exploring the Boundaries of Your Business)

    Watch this space. In the meantime, whatever you are celebrating and/ or observing over the next two weeks as summer comes to a close, we hope that it is meaningful and that you and your families enjoy it.
  • Qatar's International Commercial Court

    As Co-Chairman of the New York County Lawyers' Association's (NYCLA) Foreign & International Law Committee, Mr. Huf enjoys the occassional pleasure of hosting some rather interesting guests.

    Just this past March, the Foreign & International Law Committee welcomed the Honorable Gerald Lebovits, Justice of the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan and Adjunct Professor of Law at Columbia, Fordham and NYU.  Justice Lebovits provided a presentation covering the Qatar International Court and the time he spent in Doha teaching local attorneys there.

    JHI has briefly covered Qatar's Bifurcated Legal System in an earlier piece and we refer you to it for some of the bare bones basics.

    Justice Lebovits, in addition to describing his teaching experience in Doha, discussed the history of Qatar's International Court (the Court) for hearing commercial disputes, the caliber of its personnel, its procedures and costs.  He also discussed some of the decisions already rendered by the Court, where he participated as one of its distinguished Judges.

    Clara Flebus, Gerald Lebovits, Jason Huf
    (Left to right: Clara Flebus, Co-Chair, NYCLA Foreign & International Law Committee; Hon. Justice Gerald Lebovits; and, Jason Huf)

    Justice Lebovits pointed out, at length, what he viewed to be the efficiency of the Court relative to Arbitration facilities elsewhere in the Gulf region. The speed, cost and fairness of the proceedings made the Court, from his perspective, an ideal solution for Dispute Resolution and wondered aloud why parties did not avail themselves of the use of the Court more often in the dispute resolution clauses of their agreements.

    Mr. Huf agrees that, on paper and based on performance thus far, the Court is an attractive facility. However, the Court was founded relatively recently (2009), and as an active international practitioner who focuses on the region, Mr. Huf made the point that attorneys might be more receptive to the idea of recommending the use of the Court to their clients after more data is at hand (that is to say, after the Court has adjudicated more disputes). Of course, with attorneys perhaps hesitating to suggest that their client be something of a new legal system's "guinea pig", it may take some time before such additional data is generated.

    That said, you would be hard-pressed to find a lawyer in New York City who is as knowledgeable of the inner workings of the Court and the procedures it employs than Justice Lebovits.  His entire presentation – including his positive view of the Court's cost and time-effectiveness – was well-informed and compelling.

    JHI invites you to research the Qatar International Commercial Court and Dispute Resolution Centre and draw your own conclusions:

    www.qicdrc.com.qa


    After all, as very good lawyers, aren't we always in search of the next "better idea"?

  • What the Frack, Dude?

    Unless you are a fan of Battlestar Galactica, the word “Fracking” tends to have negative connotations.  People don’t necessarily like it, even without quite knowing that to which the word refers. 

    Fracking is the colloquial term for Hydraulic Fracturing (which may sound ever scarier), a mining process by which a fluid solution is applied at high pressure against fissures in subterranean rock formations to facilitate the yield of valuable materials (usually oil, gas or coal steam) that would ordinarily be uneconomical, or otherwise impracticable, to extract.  This process has been in use for over sixty-five years, and over 1 million wells employing such a system have operated in the continental United States alone during that period.

    While Fracking is not new, the technologies involved in both the Fracking process and in oil and gas exploration have improved to the extent wherein there are new uses that generate higher yields.  Perhaps the most discussed new developments as of late concern the Marcellus Shale natural gas deposits.

    Focusing specifically on Fracking as it applies to the Marcellus Shale, in very basic terms: a well is drilled into an extraction site, and the hydraulic fluid is applied at great pressure against cracks in subterranean sandstone formations, allowing for the injection of a proppant that facilitates the release of natural gas particles (mostly methane), which then fill the well thereby making such gas available for extraction.  The fluid solution employed in the Hydraulic Fracturing process generally consists of water (90%), sands (9.5%) and certain chemicals (0.5%).

    The chemicals conventionally used in such a solution tend to include methanol, hydrochloric or acetic acid (to clean the initial fissure), citric acid (to prevent corrosion), salts, glutaraldehyde (a disinfectant against bacteria), water-soluble guar gum and other viscosity control agents, ethylene glycol (to prevent the occurrence of scaling inside the pipes) and friction reducers.  These chemicals sometimes vary and are employed to prevent bacterial growth in the water within a wellbore, facilitate and maintain operation of the well, and to prevent or otherwise mitigate the corrosion of the well casing (such well casings typically consisting of a polymer gel or foam).

    Recycled “flowback” water, liquid propane, carbon dioxide and other gases may be used to reduce reliance on water for this process, as the technology continues to change.

    Most of the discussion about the recent proliferation of Hydraulic Fracturing in the Marcellus Shale region revolves around the potential environmental impact.  In addition to voicing worries over the possibility of increased seismic activity (earthquakes), many are concerned with the potential for pollution:  the use of certain known carcinogens in the Hydraulic Fracturing process and, particularly, contamination of groundwater by methane gas via leaks in the wells after such wells are in operation.

    There is some scientific debate still ongoing as to which is more susceptible to leakage:  Fracked wells or conventional natural gas wells.  Currently, radioactive tracers and, increasingly, geophones are used to monitor Hydraulically Fractured natural gas wells once established.  Unfortunately, much of the research and discussion on issues involving Hydraulic Fracturing and the potential consequences to the environment and our health has been ideologically motivated and politically charged.  Thus, when seeking accurate information to become better educated about these legitimate concerns, well, the waters are somewhat muddied.

    That’s disappointing, but should not discourage one from seeking more information (especially if you live in an area where Fracking is employed, or scheduled to be employed).

    The intention here is not to craft a scientific treatise or to present an academic paper.  This little blog posting is not all-inclusive, but is merely intended to provide some basic facts on an often-mentioned, but little understood, word that has made its way into our vocabulary.  JHI hopes it may well be a springboard for conducting your own research on the subject.

    Finally, this article certainly does not take any political opinion on the subject of Fracking – that can continue to be the domain of those who engage in politics for a living.
  • Its Fracking Summertime

    Between the July 4 weekend and other summer holidays, high summer in the Middle East, the holy month of Ramadan, and some sort of soccer tournament, we find ourselves in the unusual position of having a little free time here at JHI.

    As such, watch THIS SPACE:  In the coming weeks, JHI will post a brief article right here in our Notes & Comments section on Hydraulic Fracturing (colloquially referred to as “Fracking”).

    Following Labor Day, JHI will publish a brief note on contracting with parties in Middle Eastern jurisdictions (in particular, Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates(UAE)); and, in a subsequent writing, JHI will share some thoughts on Arbitration Clauses when doing business internationally.

    And, while there tends not to be many developments in the law anywhere in world during these summer months, JHI will continue to keep our eyes peeling concerning such developments as and when they affect Marcellus Shale Natural Gas, Charter Schools, Municipalities, Middle Eastern jurisdictions (particularly Gulf Cooperation Council jurisdictions), the law of Contracts, the laws of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the UAE (Abu Dhabi and Dubai) and the KSA, and business law generally.

    In the meantime, we would just like to wish all concerned a safe and happy summertime!
  • Marcellus Shale Legal Update: Land/ Natural Gas Owners Challenge Constitutionality of Forced Pooling

    A few individual private parties owning rights to the Marcellus Shale Natural Gas beneath their land have succeeded in adding themselves as litigants in an action between an energy company and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

    In successfully inserting themselves as parties to a suit filed by Hilcorp Energy (to compel the DEP to approve more applications for horizontal drilling permits), five private land owners holding three affected parcels of land are seeking to have the court declare that forced grouping, or “Forced Pooling” violates the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  As the additional drilling Hilcorp Energy seeks to perform partially depends on the enforcement of forced pooling, the court recognized the land owners as having standing and admitted their participation as parties to the case at bar.

    Forced Pooling is akin to the concept of “Eminent Domain”, wherein the owners of mineral rights and other such natural resources are compelled to lease their rights along the same terms and conditions as their neighbors for economic reasons.

    The court’s decision on the constitutionality of Forced Pooling will impact individual property rights in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and have economic repercussions across Pennsylvania and beyond.  Also, regardless of the outcome, the court’s decision is likely to trigger off a series of appeals, separate suits and legislation (as well as impact the current course of pending legislation) that could well shape the success or failure of the development of Pennsylvania’s infant natural gas industry.

    JHI will continue to track developments affecting the rapidly changing Marcellus Shale legal landscape.

  • Marcellus Shale - Be Your Own Regulator

    As energy production on federally-owned land has been slowed to a trickle through government action (and, sometimes, inaction), the production of oil and gas on privately-owned land has increased exponentially.  This development has not only provided the first real hope of a sustainable economic boom the United States has seen in years, it also has the country on pace to be energy-independent in just five years.  An America that exports energy isn’t a “game changer”, it’s a world changer.

    Those who live above, and own the rights to, Marcellus Shale natural gas deposits should be aware that the advances in technology that make Marcellus Shale natural gas exploitable also make such exploitation safe from an environmental standpoint.  Everyone likes clean water, and no one wants their use and enjoyment of clean water to be disturbed.  Almost as undesirable, however, might be the disturbance of natural gas production by bureaucrats (or, perhaps in some rare instances, ideologues acting in the guise of bureaucrats) tasked with ensuring water safety.  Also of concern may be third-party litigants seeking to maintain the artificial scarcity of our energy supply under the banner of “environmental protection”.

    How do you maintain peace of mind that your water will remain clean while preventing governmental and other third-party interference that could hamper the value of your natural resource?  Through contract.  Again, we’re talking about privately-owned land and mineral rights, so federal regulations are not the most pressing concern.  As to state regulations, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has thus far proved itself to be one of the most energy-friendly states in the country, where the emphasis on new law has largely been on securing economic growth.  But, no government lasts forever – governors have term limits, and seats in the legislature do, occasionally, turn over.

    Protect yourself by preempting the rationale for governmental and other third-party action:  when you agree to lease the rights to your gas to a gas producer, make sure the contract includes health, safety and environmental standards that are an enforceable part of your agreement.  If you own rights to Marcellus Shale natural gas deposits, negotiating for such self-regulation is perfectly reasonable and in your best interests.  Reputable gas producers will not fight you on this, and the best of them will actually help you with understanding how the technology works and how to establish enforcement mechanisms that guarantee the quality of their work on your land.

    The first step is getting together with your friends, neighbors and others who share your interests and discussing the importance of using your power as citizens and concerned property owners.  Being on the same page is fundamentally vital to keeping your environment clean without the assistance of government regulations and regulators.  The next step is contacting qualified, experienced legal counsel with the knowledge, expertise and commitment to help your community to help itself.
  • Have You Already Made a Deal for Your Gas, but Don't Know It, Yet?

    In July of this year, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed into law legislation originally designed to provide for greater transparency in determining the deductions from royalties landowners derive from their existing mineral rights leases.  Pa. Senate Bill 259 is an amendment to the Guaranteed Minimum Royalty Act of 1979, and it contains a controversial caveat that some interpret as an opening for gas companies to apply something akin to a private sector version of eminent domain called “compulsory” or “forced grouping”.

    Forced Grouping is the colloquial term for taking the terms and conditions of existing mineral rights leases, contemplated before the discovery of Marcellus Shale natural gas, and applying them against land owners with newly discovered gas deposits beneath their land without the consent of the owners, effectively eliminating their negotiating power.  If Forced Grouping is used, such pre-existing terms and conditions previously irrelevant to the leasing of rights in Marcellus Shale natural gas deposits could not only be imposed but, once imposed, would “run with the land”.  Therefore, not only could the landowner see a significantly reduced reward for the gas beneath his/ her own feet, but the value of the land itself could plummet as well.

    If you are a Pennsylvania landowner with an interest in the continuing development of the laws affecting the exploitation of the natural gas beneath your land (for some of you, land your families have owned for generations), do not be in the dark when it comes to your rights.  Get together with your friends and neighbors:  there’s safety and strength in numbers; and your best defense is making sure people with similar interests and concerns are all on the same page.  Also, seek the advice and counsel of a qualified professional licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Know what you may be up against, know your rights and do not be pressured into accepting unfavorable terms as a fait accompli.

    Marcellus Shale natural gas represents the best chance this region of the country has seen for a legitimate economic boom in many years, and landowners should be full participants in that boom.  The laws concerning your rights in Marcellus Shale natural gas are rapidly changing.  Contact a qualified and ethical Pennsylvania-admitted attorney with knowledge of this subject matter to learn more about your stake in an energy revolution that has the potential to change America – indeed, the world – for the better.