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The joint operating agreement is a commercial contract extensively used in oil and gas joint ventures, where one co-venturer manages the venture under the supervision of the other co-venturers. The English courts have yet to pronounce whether a joint operating agreement (JOA) establishes a fiduciary relationship between its co-venturers and whether fiduciary duties are created by it.
As UK Oil exploration companies move to explore outside the North Sea and enter into more contracts with companies from civil law jurisdictions (with expectations of good faith as part of their co-contracting parties) and as an increasing number of independent oil companies participate in exploration and development, the standards of conduct of co-venturers becomes increasingly important. This book reviews whether a joint operation agreement, as an example of a joint venture, is a fiduciary relationship and fiduciary duties which may apply to resources companies as co-venturers.
The book argues that the Operator owes fiduciary duties to the co-venturers and that the co-venturers owe fiduciary duties among themselves. These fiduciary duties impose high standards of conduct on the co-venturers.