THE CONTRACT to advise on the opening up of one the world's largest virgin offshore territories to the oil industry has been won by Penningtons.
The City firm beat off five other contenders for the right to advise the Falkland Islands government on the exploration and possible exploitation of 44,000 square miles of ocean.
The island launched its licensing round in London and Houston last October.
Penningtons has been appointed to advise the government on the bids when bidding closes at the end of July.
Senior crown counsel Robert Titterington said the island's government had approached six large City firms and had received "six excellent proposals" to do the work, of which Penningtons' had been chosen.
He suggested the government's relationship with the firm could develop if oil companies did move into the area, adding that the environmental impact would be a key concern.
"There are some very complex issues to be addressed," said Titterington.
"It is potentially very exciting, but we are aware of the potential environmental downside and we appreciate we have to be very careful in the way we approach this."
The successful Penningtons bid was handled by its five-lawyer natural resources unit, headed by the energy specialist Michelle Dunne.
Corporate department head Martin Byatt, who is also in the unit, said: "We are delighted to have been retained. We have a very strong team with a great range of skills.
"We have been developing a natural resources team here for two to three years and this is very much the sort of work we expect to handle."
According to The Oilman, a newsletter for the oil industry, more than 60 international oil companies have expressed an interest in the round.