Friday, May 6, 2011

Tonye Oki, 2005 Environmental and Natural Resources Law LLM Graduate, Chief Negotiator for Grynberg Petroleum Company

Tonye Oki, a 2005 LLM graduate of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy (ENRL) Graduate Program, recently joined the Grynberg Petroleum Company.

Mr. Oki, who is also an Adjunct Professor teaching "Negotiating Natural Resources Agreements" with co-Adjunct James King, hit the ground running in his new job.

"In the first week of my employment I visited five countries and negotiated minerals and land concessions with the highest levels of government - including directly with the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi," Mr. Oki said.

During the period Mr. Oki has been with Grynberg Petroleum he has been promoted from International Contracting Attorney to being appointed Executive Vice President and Chief International Negotiator for the Grynberg & Affiliates Group of Companies.

Don C. Smith, Director of the ENRL program, said, "Tonye Oki is one of the LLM program's most esteemed graduates as well as now being a professor to and mentor of students all across Denver Law. I had Tonye as a student several years ago. I knew from the moment I met him that he would make important contributions to the legal profession, and his career speaks for itself.

"In his role as an Adjunct Professor, Mr. Oki shares his insights and experience with our students, thus enabling them to benefit from this 21st century natural resources leader. Professors like Tonye Oki are what make DU Law a special place at which to study about environmental and natural resources issues," Lucy Daberkow, Assistant Administrative Director of the ENRL Graduate Program said.

Mr. Oki, who has an LLB from Nigeria, is licensed to practice law in Nigeria as a Barrister, Solicitor, and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. He is also licensed to practice law in the U.S. state of Colorado as has passed the New York Bar exam.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Financial Times' Special Report Says China is now Latin Americas Biggest Trade Partner

A new Financial Times special report underscores, once again, the international nature of the natural resources sector.

In "The New Trade Routes: Latin America" (published April 26, 2011), the FT reports that, "Over the past decade, fast-growing emerging countries, be they in Asia, India, or Africa, have shown a near insatiable demand for the commodities that Latin American has in such abundance, whether Argentine soya, Brazilian iron ore, Chilean copper or Peruvian gold."

China, in particular, has played an enormous role in this development. In 1999, according to the FT, trade between China and Latin America was not even $10 billion. Ten years later, that number had exploded to $130 billion, or nearly 16 times as much. And the growth of trade with the U.S.? Well that's another story entirely with an increase of only about half in the same period.

At Denver Law, we are intimately familiar with the rising importance of Latin America as a geographical powerhouse. Not a day goes by that someone or some group at the law school is not talking about or considering the impressive developments in Latin America, and particularly growth opportunities associated with the extraction of natural resources.

There are all manner of issues to be considered including resource nationalism, why nation states and local governments should ensure that communities where this development is taking place must have a "seat at the table" when the future is discussed, and how businesses in this sector can and must operate in a time when their every move is watched closely by NGOs and financial institutions, among others.

To be sure, the development has considerable challenges associated with it, but it has substantial opportunities as well. We will continue to prioritize recruiting the best and brightest in Latin America to study at Denver Law.

One clear indication of Denver Law's commitment to this continent is the number of LLM students that are recruited from Latin American countries. For example, in the academic year that is just finishing Denver Law's Environmental and Natural Resources Law Graduate Program has hosted LLM students from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, and Peru. To round out our hemispheric coverage, we also have students from Mexico and Canada. And, of course, we have U.S. students who come from coast to coast.

We aspire to provide a broad look at environmental and natural resources issues, and if our success in recruiting a diverse group of students is any indication we are doing just that.

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera has said the following about Latin America: "If we do things right, this 21st century will be our century."

Editor's note: The picture of Latin America at night from space is from NASA.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Members of German Bundestag Visit University of Denver; Renewable Energy in Germany and the U.S. Discussed

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure to meet with three members of the German Bundestag, who were in Denver for a series of meetings. The German Bundestag is the national Parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany. Its seat is the Reichstag Building in Berlin. As the strongest economy and largest population in the European Union, Germany has played, and continues to play, a major role in discussions about EU energy policy.

One of the subjects that we discussed is the difference in how the U.S. and Germany (and the European Union more generally) see the relationship between the environment and energy and jobs. One of the German parliamentarians explained that in his country the "link" between green energy and jobs is widely accepted. In this regard, the German Consul General for Los Angeles pointed out that Siemens, a major German engineering firm, has invested widely outside of Germany, including in Colorado where the firm has a wind turbine research center just outside of Denver.

The Germans, Danes, and Spanish, in particular, have invested significant public and private monies in the development of renewable energy. (In the eyes of many experts, European-based firms have most successfully deployed renewable energy technologies.) Luckily for us, many of their investments are in Colorado, the U.S. center of "the new energy economy."

Stay tuned for more news about Denver Law and renewable energy. It is no accident that we are moving smartly ahead in this key energy sector. Prospective students interested in renewable energy law and policy should strongly consider Denver Law.

Don C. Smith
Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy