Volunteer Impact

International Senior Lawyers Project Volunteer: Harry Sullivan

  • International Senior Lawyers Project Volunteer: Harry Sullivan

Harry Sullivan: 2017 Volunteer of the Year Award Nominee

This article was written by VEGA Member International Senior Lawyers Project.

Following the discovery of significant gas reserves in 2011, Tanzania’s Ministry of Energy and Minerals established a permanent, multidisciplinary Government Negotiating Team (GNT) to negotiate with foreign companies. The government tasked the GNT with negotiating the terms and conditions for development of a proposed US$30 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) project with a pool of foreign companies, including multinationals like Exxon and Shell. In 2015, International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP) was approached by a local partner, the UONGOZI Institute, to deliver ongoing training to the GNT in order for the Government to build the expertise it needs internally, rather than continuing to rely on external advisers.

Harry Sullivan volunteered with ISLP and the UONGOZI Institute started in 2015, when he organized and conducted three capacity building workshops for the GNT in May, July and August. Through these workshops, Harry helped the GNT establish a new shared vision for the oil and gas and LNG industry in Tanzania, providing comprehensive training programs that included high-level policy and strategy sessions, technical trainings and negotiation strategy workshops. Harry’s workshops tackled a variety of issues such as the structuring of LNG projects and applicable tax regimes, local content issues and community and environmental issues. His efforts were also fundamental in designing negotiation trainings that combined both a lecture-based approach and experience-based learning through participation in simulated negotiation exercises.

Harry’s workshops were so successful that earlier in 2017, the Government of Tanzania approached the UONGOZI Institute and ISLP to re-engage Harry in Tanzania. At this time, he was requested not only to continue providing capacity-building support to the GNT, but also to provide strategic advice on the negotiations themselves. This additional role was beyond the duties assigned in the original project, and Harry generously agreed to take on the increased workload. This request is even more remarkable in light of the Tanzanian government’s admirable efforts to reduce reliance on international experts and strengthen their internal capacity. This highlights not only Harry’s outstanding technical knowledge, but also the extent to which he was able to form a relationship of trust with the members of the GNT.

Harry has so far returned to volunteer in Tanzania twice in 2017 in order to provide this direct negotiation support. He has assisted the team in the negotiation of the Project’s term sheet, outlining the key features and requirements of the Project and identifying the agreement’s key provisions and underlying rationale. The term sheet drafted by the GNT has since been used as a basis to negotiate the agreements governing the Project with the foreign companies.

Harry’s activities in Tanzania produced measurable results and introduced transformative change in the way the GNT liaised with foreign investors. According to Harry, “During the trainings, the members of the GNT have shown increasing interest and enthusiasm. They frequently engage in discussions, asking questions and showing a willingness to tackle the most complex issues arising from the implementation of the Projects and to fully understand them.” A representative of UONGOZI Institute reported to ISLP earlier this year, “Harry has been absolutely fantastic! The team is in awe and truly see the value of having such a seasoned expert in the midst during this process”. The GNT’s reviews of Harry’s work have also been extremely positive. Participants reported that workshops “exceeded expectations,” enabling them to “build up negotiation skills” and “obtain confidence.” Tanzania’s decision to approach extractives contract negotiations by building the capacity of an established team in order to get the best deal possible for the country is widely seen as having been a success, and has been praised by economists.

By continuing to provide capacity building support in parallel with direct transactional support on negotiations, it is clear that Harry’s commitment to this project has had a measurable impact on the country’s ability to negotiate extractives agreements.