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John J. Michael

John J. Michael Partner, Energy Transactions & Projects

John Michael leads the firm’s Maritime & Offshore practice. He represents clients in a wide variety of corporate, finance, and commercial matters relating to shipping, marine terminalling, offshore drilling, and oilfield services. His experience includes maritime and energy transactions across the Americas, Asia, Europe, Australia, and Africa.  He also represents clients in transactions relating to the trading, intermodal transportation, and export of crude oil, refined products, LNG, NGLs, and dry-bulk commodities.

John Michael’s transactional practice is complemented by his unique experience in admiralty litigation, and he has tried cases in both state and federal courts involving charter party disputes and ship collisions. He has also represented clients before the United States Coast Guard, the U.S. Maritime Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and other governmental agencies on issues related to marine pollution, maritime security, “Jones Act” compliance, port permitting and tariffs, and vessel registration and documentation.

Experience Highlights

  • An oil major in the fleet renewal and acquisition of seven “Jones Act” tankers on long-term time charters, including newbuilds with dual LNG fuel capability, a converted shuttle tanker for deployment in the U.S. Gulf, and two tankers to support the client’s production offtake of Eagle Ford shale crude oil
  • An international trading and terminalling company in the re-activation and expansion of a multimodal crude oil, condensate, and NGL marine terminal facility in the Port of Corpus Christi to serve Eagle Ford shale production; representation includes land acquisition for terminal expansion and pipeline system development, siting and construction of new plant and terminal facilities, environmental and regulatory permitting and compliance, drafting and negotiating interconnection agreements, terminal services agreements, and marine provisions with various terminal customers
  • GasAtacama in the Mejillones Seaport’s FSRU Project in Chile, which is the first LNG Floating, Storage, and Regasification Unit (FSRU) to be deployed offshore Chile
  • A navigation district at trial on its claims for property damage following a series of vessel breakaways and collisions in the Houston Ship Channel; following trial, the Court entered judgment in favor of the port authority for the full amount of its claimed damages

Maritime & Shipping

  • An oil major in the $600 million financing, construction, and long-term time charter of a series of double-hulled “Jones Act” products tankers; representation includes the reorganization and restructuring of this significant marine finance and construction project, involving four lending banks and 11 different shipyards and vendors
  • A U.S. conglomerate in the sale of a fleet of 65 vessels, and the transfer of an additional 151 bareboat chartered vessels, to a “Bowaters” corporation
  • A fortune 500 midstream energy company in its crude oil supply and chartering program, including negotiating voyage and time charters, contracts of affreightment, sub-freight agreements, and the shipping terms of its crude oil sales agreements, as well as the development of the company’s general terms and conditions for its marine terminals
  • An international shipowner in the acquisition of two LNG tankers and the charter-back of those vessels to their previous owners; this transaction also included negotiating the terms and conditions of a purchase option agreement, ship sale and purchase agreements, manuscript time charters, vessel management agreements, and product supply agreements; and it was valued in excess of $420 million

Offshore

  • GE Energy Financial Services in the $150 million purchase of a 50% interest in an offshore oil and gas processing platform in the Gulf of Mexico, from ATP Oil & Gas Corporation
  • Major international E&P company in the contracting arrangements for a newbuild FPSO to serve a deepwater development project offshore Angola, including drafting and negotiating relevant FEED, subsea infrastructure (SURF), O&M agreements, and bareboat charter
  • An international energy company in the negotiation of a long-term $650 million offshore drilling contract for a purpose-built, ultra-deepwater semi-submersible rig
  • An international E&P company in a transaction involving a four-party sub-assignment of a deepwater mobile offshore drilling unit
  • A multinational lender in the $500 million financing, construction, and charter of a semi-submersible drilling platform to be built in Abu Dhabi and operated offshore Brazil; included review of all related engineering, design, and construction contracts that were subject to lender approval
  • A rig owner in the refinancing of a fleet of Gulf of Mexico drilling assets, including the re-flagging and foreign registration of two rigs
  • A lender group in connection with the $100 million financing of a newbuild Baker Marine Pacific Class jack-up drilling rig

LNG

  • An international LNG project developer in the acquisition and conversion of a 72,000-ton LNG tanker to a floating storage and regasification unit
  • A leading Japanese gas utility in the development and negotiation of its master LNG sales agreements for LNG cargo sales into the United States
  • A multibillion dollar Australian LNG project in the drafting and negotiating of long-term time charters for existing and newbuild LNG carriers
  • An oil major in its marine activities at a newly commissioned LNG terminal, including the development and negotiation of port liability agreements, terminal use agreements, and the terminal and marine operations manuals, as well as the acquisition of four purpose-built tractor-tugs and the negotiation of related agreements for third-party towage and emergency marine services

Admiralty & Maritime Litigation

  • Texas port authority at trial in state court and through prevailing appeals in the Texas Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court in a dispute involving ownership of lands submerged beneath navigable waters
  • Obtained full recovery for a consortium of 23 pipeline owners on their claims for costs and expenses of oil spill response and cleanup, and associated property damages and operating losses, arising from a marine casualty offshore Galveston, Texas, when a tanker dragged its anchor across and ruptured a submerged pipeline; this case involved vessel arrest/seizure and limitation of liability proceedings
  • Obtained defense judgment on partial findings at trial in favor of an international steel conglomerate in a multimillion dollar cargo dispute involving competing interpretations of INCO terms and CISG obligations, and factual disputes related to the nature of the cargo loss
  • A major chemical company in a court-ordered mediation on its claims for substantial losses arising from the cross-contamination of high-grade petrochemical cargoes and shoretank inventories; obtained recovery for the client against the transporting vessel, receiving terminal, and cargo inspection service

Contact Details

Houston

T +1.713.758.3694
F +1.713.615.5231
jmichael@velaw.com
1001 Fannin Street
Suite 2500
Houston, TX 77002
Local time: 1:33 PM
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John's Practices

  • Tulane University, J.D. magna cum laude and Certificate of Specialization in Maritime Law, 2003 (President, Student Bar Association; Managing Editor, Tulane Law Review; Dean Donald R. Moore Award; Mitchell Franklin Scholar in Contracts)
  • Texas A&M University, B.S., Maritime Administration summa cum laude, 1998 (Phi Kappa Phi; Edwin Eikel Most Outstanding Graduate Award; Student Body President [CGMS])
  • Admitted to practice: Texas; United States Supreme Court; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit; U.S. District Court for the Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Texas
    • Marine Charterer, SeaRiver Maritime, Inc. (ExxonMobil Corp.), Houston, Texas, 1998–2000
      • Selected to the Texas Super Lawyers list, Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters), 2015−2017
      • Selected to the Texas Rising Stars list, Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuter), 2013–2015
      • Legal 500 U.S., Project Finance, 2013
          • Presiding Officer, University of Texas Admiralty and Maritime Law Conference, January 2016
          • Member: Board of Visitors, Texas A&M University at Galveston (Texas Maritime Academy)
          • Member: University of Texas Admiralty and Maritime Planning Committee
          • Member: Maritime Law Association of the United States, Houston Young Lawyers Association, Lakewood Yacht Club, Galveston Bay Foundation