The Oil and Gas ROFR: Understanding Current ROFR Issues from the Point of View of the Transactional Lawyer, the Litigator, and In-House Counsel


  • Donald G. MacDiarmid
  • Sean J. Korney
  • Melanie Teetaert
  • Julie J.M. Taylor
  • Robert Martz
  • Randon E. Slaney



Energy Law, Petroleum Law


Rights of first refusal and other preferential or pre-emptive rights (together, ROFRs, and individually a ROFR) routinely find their way into oil and gas industry agreements. Disputes often arise because of the complex nature and significant economic consequences of ROFRs. In recent years, a number of reported cases, either relating directly to ROFRs or more generally relating to contractual interpretation, have clarified (or at times muddied) the waters surrounding the use, application, and interpretation of ROFRs. However, most ROFR disputes never result in a reported decision because the parties typically negotiate solutions long before trial.

The authors consider current trends involving ROFRs in oil and gas agreements, and how they believe the law and legal practice surrounding ROFRs might continue to evolve in the years to come. The authors do not attempt to rehash the fundamentals of the law surrounding ROFRs; instead, they focus on how the courts have dealt with ROFRs in recent cases as well as how corporate lawyers and in-house counsel grapple with ROFRs day-today. The authors utilize the ROFR provisions found in industry standard contracts to analyze outstanding areas of uncertainty as well as what lawyers should contemplate prior to including a ROFR in an agreement. Additionally, the article examines the implications of recent rulings on the duty of good faith that may affect ROFRs. Finally, the article considers selected subjects of topical interest, including ROFRs in the context of busted butterfly transactions, insolvency proceedings, and package deals.