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Matt Ash


Matt Ash

Cape Town

T:+27 21 405 1200

Matt is an energy and infrastructure lawyer based in Cape Town.

Matt's authoritative knowledge is in energy and infrastructure project work. His main areas of activity are in oil & gas, unconventional gas, nuclear, and renewable energy power generation.

Matt has been listed as a leading lawyer in the financial and corporate space by IFLR1000, 2016. He was listed as a leading energy and infrastructure lawyer, IFLR1000, 2014.

Oil and Gas

Matt has extensive experience in the upstream oil and gas sector throughout Southern Africa. Prior to the organisations’ amalgamation into PetroSA, colleague Professor Michael Dale and Matt undertook all of the upstream work for Soekor E&P and Mossgas. Other upstream clients presently include PetroSA (the South African national oil company), Statoil, Bayfield Energy PLC, Trinity E&P Ltd, PolyTech Ltd, Mitsubishi, and Molopo E&P.

Matt is also closely involved with the extensive expansion and development of the midstream oil and gas sector in South Africa. He advises several oil majors on the development of storage and distribution terminals throughout Southern Africa, advises clients on refining assets, and is called upon continually to advise on compliance with environmental and regulatory frameworks and policy. Key clients in this particular sector include Chevron, BP, Shell, Total, Engen, SAPREF, PetroSA and Oando PLC.

Matt has been involved in the downstream petroleum sector in Southern Africa for nearly 25 years. Transactions have included the acquisition of an oil major’s entire downstream business in South Africa and across the African continent, the disposal of an oil major’s entire downstream operations in Southern African countries, advising a Pan-African petroleum company on the establishment of its downstream business across southern Africa, and advising key players on critical environmental and regulatory framework compliance (including advice to international petroleum companies on the implementation of the new Regulated Accounts System (fuel pricing system) in South Africa). Key clients include Chevron, PetroSA, Engen, Total, BP and Oando PLC.

Sharing his experience in the upstream and downstream oil and gas regulatory environment, Matt has authored the chapters on South African petroleum law in the seminal textbook Dale et al: SA Mineral and Petroleum Law.

Renewable energy

Matt has been an integral part of the firm’s teams representing sponsors, developers and lenders in numerous projects participating in the South African Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (SA REIPPPP). Matt has represented local energy companies and foreign utilities in the acquisition and further development of wind and solar pv projects, to the aggregate value of in excess of R30 billion.

Key clients include Cennergi, Enel Green Power, Mulilo/Sonnedix, Total/SunPower, Sagit Energy Ventures and Soventix. Matt has also advised lenders, including Nedbank, Standard Bank and ABSA Capital on EPC and O&M contracts in various renewable energy projects.

Matt presently represents China Heavy Machinery Corp. as EPC contractor for the construction of the largest biofuel manufacturing facility in South Africa.

Presently, Matt is closely engaged with Fusion Energy on various biomass/cogeneration opportunities.

Power generation

Matt has been closely involved with the continuing development of the South and Southern African power sector, both from a generating and transmission point of view.

To this end, Matt has consulted to the provincial government of the Western Cape on the proposed development of CCGT power generating assets on the Cape West Coast, and the development of appropriated infrastructure required for delivery of fuel (gas). Matt has also been part of the firm’s teams consulting to various clients in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique on various power generation projects and development of transmission infrastructure.

Nuclear power generation

For many years Matt represented the National Nuclear Regulator, advising on appropriate implementation and enforcement of legislation and regulations.

Presently, Matt is retained by a group of EPC contractors forming a consortium with foreign contractors to bid in the impending further nuclear power generation procurement in South Africa (Nuclear 2).

Further to his extensive past involvement in contentious work involving international corporations and foreign jurisdictions, Matt is regularly called upon to advise on risk assessment and mitigation in a variety of project and financing agreements in the energy and infrastructure sectors, and to advise appropriate dispute resolution mechanisms, in particular with respect to international arbitration provisions.

Matt holds a BA LLB degree from the University of the Witwatersrand, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Maritime Law from the University of Cape Town.  He was admitted as an attorney in 1991 and as an attorney-advocate in 1995.


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  • Representative experience

    Upstream oil and gas

    • Assisting Chevron in the negotiation and conclusion of a Co-operation Agreement (precursor to a Joint Development Agreement/farm-in) with Falcon Oil & Gas with respect to the exercise of Falcon’s unconventional (shale) gas exploration rights in the Karoo Basin, South Africa.
    • Advising a major Far Eastern conglomerate regarding the acquisition of offshore oil and gas assets in Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique (value approx. USD1.5 billion).
    • Advising the South African national oil company in the assessment of the South African shale gas resource (estimated in excess of 400 tcf – fifth largest globally), and optimal exploitation of such resource under international best practices (technical, environmental, and regulatory).
    • Advising Bayfield Energy on the acquisition and registration of offshore exploration rights in the North Pletmos Basin off the South African south-east coast.
    • Advising a Far East energy company on the Namibian oil and gas regulatory framework and compliance pursuant to its proposed farm-in to the Kudu offshore gas field project.
    • Advising an energy IPP on feasibility and due diligence requirements in relation to proposed participation in Sunbird Energy’s Ibhubesi offshore gas field project.
    • Advising PetroSA on drilling unit services agreements pertaining to its Project Ikwezi offshore gas field development programme in Block 9.
    • Advising several clients on the proposed amendments to the South African Mineral & Petroleum Resources Development Act and the draft Petroleum Technical Regulations, specifically as to likely direct impact on exploration and production operations.
    • Advising an exploration company on the disposal of its exploration rights in respect of coal-bed methane resources in South Africa.
    • Advising an energy IPP on the acquisition of exploration rights in respect of coal-bed methane resources in Botswana.

    Midstream oil and gas/petroleum

    • Advising SGS Energy on feasibility and implementation of the development of petroleum storage and distribution infrastructure across South Africa.
    • Representing an international oil major in the determination of issues arising with an EPC contractor in connection with the shut-down refit and expansion of a refinery.
    • Advising an international oil major in the negotiation with a terminal service provider regarding a Terminal Development and Services Agreement for the major expansion of its fuel storage capacity in South Africa.
    • Representing a global LPG trader in the development of its LPG business and operations in Southern Africa, including the development of major import, storage and distribution infrastructure at South African ports, and drawing up the appropriate throughput agreements and gas sales agreements.

    Downstream petroleum

    • Member of a multi-disciplinary consortium appointed for the rationalisation within the Central Energy Fund of petroleum and gas assets (PetroSA/iGas).
    • Advised and represented the ORTIA Fuel Consortium (BP, Chevron, Engen, Sasol/Exel Shell and Total) in all transactions including the conclusion of lease/use agreements with ACSA, for the supply of jet aviation fuel at OR Tambo International Airport, Cape Town International Airport and King Shaka International Airport.
    • Advising the Purchaser in respect of the acquisition of the entire midstream and downstream operations and business of a major petroleum company in South Africa and throughout Africa.
    • Representing an international oil major in the disposal of its entire downstream operation in a Southern African state.
    • Representing a Pan-African petroleum company in the development of its business and operations in Southern Africa, including corporate structuring, Black Economic Empowerment compliance and structuring, application for upstream technical co-operation permits and exploration rights, and advising on downstream petroleum product import and export permitting.
    • Advising an international oil major on the implementation of the Regulatory Accounts System (revised fuel pricing mechanism) in South Africa.
    • Assisting an international oil major in ensuring regulatory compliance for above-ground storage facilities throughout South Africa.

    Renewable energy

    • Member of a multi-disciplinary consortium appointed to the panel of the Central Energy Fund for the restructuring of the CEF to establish a new Clean Energy Division.
    • Advising several developers in the South African Renewable Energy IPP Procurement Programme, in particular on feasibility studies, and negotiation and finalization of EPC and O&M contracts (aggregate project value in excess of ZAR30 billion).
    • In particular, representing developers in the assessment of and acquisition of solar PV and wind projects, including due diligence investigations, acquisition negotiations and agreements, and consequent project development (bid formulation) – including Cennergi, Enel Green Power, Total/SunPower, SkySolar.
    • Representing the sponsor in the establishing of a private equity fund / debt facility arrangement to fund energy projects in South Africa and the Southern African sub-continent (fund/facility initial value USD1 billion).
    • Representing a Chinese EPC contractor in the development and construction of a major biofuels plant in the Free State.

    Power and nuclear power generation

    • Consulting to developers and authorities on feasibility and structuring of major infrastructure development (LNG terminal, desalination plant, coal gasification plant, CCGT power generation plants) at major South African port.
    • Representing contractor members of a consortium to bid for appointment in the first phase of the South African nuclear new-build programme (project value ZAR300 billion).
  • Rankings and recognitions

    Recent awards and recognition include:

    • Legal Media Group Expert Guides Guide to the World’s Leading Energy Lawyers 2012
    • Who’s Who International – Oil and Gas Lawyers 2012
    • Matthew is listed as a leading lawyer in financial & corporate, disputes, project ;;development and energy & infrastructure in IFLR1000, 2016.
  • Memberships and activities

    Matt’s professional appointments include:

    • President of the Cape Chapter of the Maritime Law Association of South Africa (1997-2000)
    • Member of the Executive Committee of the Maritime Law Association of South Africa (1998-2002)
    • Chair of the Oil Pollution and Marine Insurance Committees of the Maritime Law Association of South Africa (1998-2002)
    • Advisor to the Steering Committee, Arbitration Foundation of South Africa (Cape Town) (2002-2007)
    • Advisor to Special Working Group, Cape Oil Hub Project (2002)
    • Special Counsel to and Member of the Central Committee of the Missions to Seafarers in Southern Africa (1995-present)
    • Member of Executive Committee, Institute of Directors (Western Cape) (2002-2004)

    Matt regularly presents papers at major conferences and seminars. Recent participation includes:

    • Africa Energy Forum June 2011 (Paris) – panellist
    • PACO3 July 2011 (Cape Town) – respondent
    • Energy Indaba February 2012 (Johannesburg) – respondent
    • Unconventional Gas & Oil Summit March 2012 (Warsaw) – paper on the South African shale gas resource
    • Africa Energy Forum June 2012 (Berlin) – panellist