Arctic Law

As temperatures rise, sea ice and permafrost diminish, and climate change policies evolve, businesses in the Arctic are navigating social, economic and political uncertainties.  These uncertainties create risks, opportunities and the potential for new disputes about access to resources, energy development, habitat protection and rights of indigenous populations.


Clients exploring or operating in the Arctic today need legal advisors who are familiar with the regulatory landscape, the agency processes and the stakeholders.  Clients need advisors who are familiar with their industry, and whose constructive working relationships with regulators, public officials and other stakeholders assist in identifying the common ground needed to achieve each client’s goals.

Our capabilities and subject matter leadership are nationally recognized.  As leaders on the cutting-edge legal issues emerging in the Arctic, Stoel Rives was invited to participate in drafting legislation governing remediation following spills, air and water quality requirements, shoreline and coastline management, land use entitlements, and public land laws. 

Transactions and Development

At Stoel Rives, our Arctic Law team counsels domestic and international companies on the unique economic development opportunities in the Arctic.  Our experts provide tax planning and structuring advice using available development incentives, tax credits and tax exemptions as tools to enhance our clients' case for exploration and development in the Arctic.  As our clients grow and mature in the region, our Arctic Law team offers all of the traditional corporate law services, including M&A, joint ventures, financings and intellectual property protection.

Stoel Rives’ success in the Arctic is attributed, in part, to our long-standing representation of businesses seeking opportunities in the region, including Alaska Native Corporations and Indian Tribes.  We’ve assisted companies with corporate and real estate transactions, contract and rights-of-way negotiation, and health care and employee benefits counseling.  Stoel Rives’ attorneys understand the unique aspects of Alaska law and culture and the important interaction of these interests with traditional legal principles.


Climate change is opening new transportation channels and increasing access to lands that were once ice fields and to energy resources that were previously unreachable.  At Stoel Rives our permitting attorneys couple their legal experience with industry knowledge and navigate the maze of regulatory reviews to help clients obtain permits and easements to explore and develop these newly accessible offshore oil and gas resources, as well as geothermal, wind, wave and tidal, and hydropower resources.  Stoel Rives’ attorneys work with clients to enlist technical consultants and help manage those professionals, as needed.  

Our work for clients includes a wide range of permitting, compliance counseling and litigation under various environmental statutes, including the National Environmental Policy Act,  the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and the federal pollution control statutes.  Our attorneys negotiate permit conditions, draft permit language to ease implementation, and represent clients before the agency, at hearings and at public approval meetings.  Stoel Rives is a national leader in analysis, negotiation and litigation of issues arising under the Endangered Species Act, such as habitat protection and species listings. 


As the Arctic opens to new development and new businesses, disputes will arise.  Despite excellent efforts by our clients, Stoel Rives advisors and the involved government agencies, some projects and transactions will not avoid litigation.  Challenges from environmental activists, ambiguities in land ownership, scrutiny by regulators, construction claims, insurance coverage claims and royalty disputes may result in litigation.  Stoel Rives trial attorneys represent clients as claimants and defendants in local, state and federal venues from administrative hearing, to trial and through appeal.  Stoel Rives’ reputation for litigation excellence derives, in part, from our successful results in significant, high-profile cases involving the interests of businesses operating in the Arctic. 

Our Services

  • Financings, transactions and tax counsel
  • Transactions involving Alaska Native Corporations and Indian Tribes
  • Permitting and land use
  • Compliance with Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and other federal environmental laws
  • Compliance with Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act
  • Compliance with National Environmental Policy Act
  • Litigation
  • Construction & Design
  • Government contracts
  • Counsel to numerous oil and gas companies in connection with leasing and permitting of exploration and development activities on the North Slope of Alaska and in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, pursuant to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the National Petroleum Reserve Production Act, NEPA, CWA §§ 404 and 402, ESA, MMPA, the Coastal Zone Management Act, MBTA, MSA (Essential Fish Habitat) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
  • Analyze, prepare and negotiate exploration and option agreements, leases, unit agreements, extraction contracts, surface use agreements, land use permits, and easements for oil, gas, and mining companies, as well as Alaska Native Corporations.
  • Assist companies in negotiating and closing acquisitions, sales, financings, and strategic equity investments. 
  • Assist companies with applicable Alaska state and local taxes, Alaska oil and gas production taxes, corporate income taxes, mining license taxes, and property taxes before the Alaska Department of Revenue. 
  • Defended an oilfield services supply company in a $50 million products liability action concerning the destruction of an oil rig. All claims against the client were dismissed.
Insights & Presentations
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