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Leading lawyers

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The ‘well-informed, responsive and user-friendly’, Pérez Alati, Grondona, Benites, Arntsen & Martínez De Hoz, Jr’s oil and gas practice is ‘simply outstanding’. Combining regulatory prowess with corporate firepower, the team strikes the right note with its ‘wide knowledge of oil and gas law’ and its ability to put forward ‘strong, dedicated lawyers’. José Alfredo Martínez de Hoz Jr is ‘at the top of his game’ and is regarded by many as the ‘go-to lawyer for oil and gas in Argentina’; he has a distinguished record in energy arbitrations and is representing two ExxonMobil subsidiaries against the Republic of Argentina in the annulment phase of an international investment arbitration, as well as representing YPF in a high-value ICC arbitration against a Brazilian natural gas importer. Elsewhere, Juan Cruz Azzarri advised YPF, Capex, YSUR and Wintershall on legal actions looking to declare as unconstitutional the imposition of a special charge brought in by an executive decree on natural-gas tariffs. Transactional highlights included Mariano Grondona’s counselling Petrobras Brasil and Petrobras Argentina on the $101m sale of certain hydrocarbon assets to Compañía General de Combustibles. The group also calls on the services of highly-rated sector expert Pablo Rueda and administrative law specialist Jimena Vega Olmos.

Alliani & Bruzzon’s senior partner Pablo Alliani is ‘a major market figure’ and clients highlight his ‘great experience’ and ‘deep knowledge of the industry’; the practice group also draws on the expertise of knowledgeable Fernando Brunelli, Cristian Galansky, and of counsel Alejandro D’Onofrio. The firm’s broad oil-and-gas expertise spans the full gamut of M&A, joint ventures, project development and regulatory matters, and it also fields supplementary strength in environmental, employment and tax issues. Current matters see the firm continue to act for Chevron on its agreement with YPF in Vaca Muerta, which relates to the operation of 474 wells at the Loma Campana concession. In other headline work, the team represented Pan American Energy on a farm-in agreement with Madalena Ventures, and it also advised Disvol Energia on its proposed acquisitions of major assets in the downstream sector. Other representative clients include Statoil, KBR and The Carlyle Group.

Bruchou, Fernández Madero & Lombardi is ‘among the best in the market’ and impresses with the ‘total availability of its partners and associates at all times, going way beyond the level of service offered at other firms’. Energy head Javier Rodríguez Galli secures superlative praise from domestic and multinational companies alike as ‘probably the most competent professional in Argentina for oil and gas law’ due to his ability to ‘understand the industry not only from a legal, but also from a commercial and technical viewpoint’. The group also benefits from the expertise of several senior associates including Exequiel Buenaventura, Evangelina González Soldo and Santiago Balbi, who is an ‘excellent lawyer for local work’. The firm’s sharpened focus on oil and gas matters over recent years has translated into an enviable client list and it is currently representing Petronas in the La Amarga Chica project and Gazprom in the Estación Fernández Oro project – both in association with YPF. On the contentious side, the firm is representing Pan American Energy in an arbitration against Transportadora de Gas del Sur regarding natural gas processing agreements.

Over the past year, Marval, O'Farrell & Mairal’s ‘consistently exceptional’ group reinforced its position as a leading firm for oil and gas M&A, winning key roles on a string of high-profile deals. Among headline mandates, it advised Petrobras on the local aspects of the $891m multi-jurisdictional sale of Petrobras Participaciones to Pampa Energía –department head and ‘skilful negotiatorFrancisco Macías led the oil and gas advice on that deal. In another highlight transaction, it advised a group of investors on the $241m acquisition of a 50% stake in Transportadora de Gas del Sur – Ricardo Beller was the energy point man on that piece of work. On the contentious side, the firm is defending Total Austral in an arbitration brought by Metrogas relating to the alleged breach of an international natural gas supply agreement. The team has also recently advised on project development matters and farm-out agreements. Counsel Arturo Pera is ‘very well known in the market’ and has ‘ample experience in the oil sector’; Pedro Serrano Espelta is also recommended.

Estudio O'Farrell is ‘Among the best’ and the broad team scores highly for its ‘valuable, effective and expedient legal advice across public law, commercial matters, tax and litigation’. Under the leadership of joint department heads Uriel O´Farrell and Agustín Siboldi, the group is a leading player in regulatory matters, enjoying a close relationship with state-controlled YPF. Among its other key clients, Siboldi provides ongoing advice to Axion Energy on various regulatory and antitrust issues, including successfully representing it in an investigation into alleged price fixing. María Agustina Fanelli Evans is also highly regarded for energy regulation and is advising Metrogas in several judicial proceedings challenging the implementation of a new rating scheme. The group’s transactional capability is also significant and it advised YPF on a credit and acquisition agreement with Pampa Energía, whereby YPF provided a $140m loan in return for certain exploitation concessions, including a 33% stake in the Rio Neuquén block and an 80% share of the Aguada de la Arena block. Fernando García Pullés is also recommended.

Baker McKenzie’s oil-and-gas group has a focus on transactional work but it also advises on regulatory and compliance issues and commercial litigation. Transactional partner Adolfo Durañona heads the team and advised Madalena Energy on a $5m asset swap. Roberto Grané also dedicates a significant part of his practice to oil-and-gas work and represented Neos Geosolutions on its acquisition of shares in exploration and production (E&P) company Energicon. Senior associate Ezequiel Artola is a name to watch and advised Madalena Energy on the sale of a 55% interest in the Coiron Amargo Sur Este block to Pan American Energy.

Oil and gas stalwart Bazán Cambré & Orts remains a distinguished brand for energy work in Argentina, due to its ‘deep experience in the sector’ and ‘very strong partners’. The firm houses a broad practice with expertise across the full industry life cycle, including oil permits, concession bids, E&P contracts, M&A and associated regulatory and compliance matters. Senior figure Mario Orts is widely admired as being among the foremost oil-and-gas experts and the group also includes noted names Jaime Sánchez de la Puente and Nicolás Dilernia. Key clients include Chevron Argentina, Enap Sipetrol Argentina and San Jorge petroleum.

Beccar Varela’s oil and gas practice is led by corporate finance partner Roberto Fortunati, who brings to bear a strong record in project finance and development. In a recent example of his work in this area, Fortunati advised American Energy Partners on its initial agreements with YPF for the exploration and development of the Vaca Muerta formation in the Neuquén Basin, worth over $500m over the next three years. He also advised Enap Sipetrol on the bidding process for the construction of oil and gas installations in the South Atlantic Ocean. Junior partner José Carlos Cueva is also recommended and represented Petróleos Sudamericanos on a YPF tender process for certain E&P concessions.

Specialist boutique Martelli Abogados sets out its stall as a one-stop-shop for oil and gas and mining companies, with capability in exploration and production, service agreements, joint ventures and M&A, as well as supplementary expertise in environmental regulations, administrative law, employment and tax. Founding partner Hugo Martelli is a respected arbitrator and enjoys a strong profile in the market. Other key names include Pablo de Rosso, who specialises in transactional matters, and Florencia Hardoy, who is recommended for regulatory and contentious work. Compañía General de Combustibles, Petro Andina Resources and Pioneer Natural Resources are all on the firm’s books.

Acting on a healthy balance of transactional and regulatory matters, Nicholson y Cano Abogados impresses with its ‘great all-round technical knowledge’. The team draws on the oil-and-gas expertise of five partners, with Marcelo Lamesa highlighted as ‘extremely solid’. Among other matters, Miguel Blaquier advised High Luck Group on its acquisition of an additional 30% stake in the Palmar Largo oil and gas concession to reach a 68.15% interest. Pluspetrol, Enap Sipetrol and YPF are also representative clients.

Abeledo Gottheil Abogados attracts praise for its ‘strong knowledge of the industry’ and ‘extremely committed lawyers’. In particular, regulated industries specialist Luis Erize is ‘very strategic and informed’. The firm blends its broad energy expertise with a robust litigation capability to specialise in regulatory and contentious oil-and-gas matters, with notable firepower in energy arbitration cases. Recent matters saw the team successfully represent a global energy company in an arbitration brought against the government under a bilateral investment protection treaty.

Alfaro-Abogados leverages its representative office in Beijing to occupy a strong market niche in advising China-based oil and gas companies on local matters. Recent highlights include advising CPTDC on the establishment of its Argentine branch. Carlos Alfaro is the key contact for a group that also counts Sinopec, Cheniere and Andes Energia as clients.

Beretta Godoy handles a steady stream of transactional and tax matters for domestic and multinational energy clients, and has up-to-date experience in concessions, pipeline construction and specialist energy-related tax matters. Recent work includes advising Ensign Energy on several tax and foreign exchange control-systems cases involving the import of machinery for E&P purposes. Juan Sonoda heads the litigation and energy and natural resources departments, while Federico Godoy is the key name for project finance.

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