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Colombia > Energy and natural resources > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


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  2. Leading lawyers

Leading lawyers

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Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría is a major name for energy work, with the Colombian practice augmented by the firm’s broader regional resources. The ‘client-oriented’ team is praised for its ‘industry knowledge and experience on business matters’. In a notable instruction, it advised Macquarie Capital on legal and regulatory matters in connection with the development of four hydroelectric plants, including the structuring of a project finance scheme and the drafting and negotiation of a corresponding Power Purchase Agreement. The firm also provides advice on an ongoing basis to Terpel in relation to the purchase of natural gas required to operate the company’s service stations in the country. Other clients include Corporación Soluciones Energéticas Integrales, Agencia Nacional de Minería, and Ecopetrol. The team is led by Sandra Manrique, with senior associate Johanna Cajigas also recommended.

A leading firm in the sector, Posse Herrera Ruiz has a presence in ‘all key segments of the energy and natural resources field’, and is noted for its ‘understanding of business needs’. ‘Notable practitionerFrancisco Urrutia and the ‘very supportive, patient and deeply knowledgeable’ Alvaro José Rodríguez lead the practice. The group is acting for Anadarko on several substantial projects including the drilling of two offshore deep-water wells, and applications for free trade status for nine offshore exploration blocks. It also advised GDF SUEZ on due diligence and other matters relating to its bid to acquire a majority stake in Isagen, in a matter worth approximately $2.6bn. Other clients include Halliburton, Bridas, AUX Colombia, and ConocoPhillips.

Baker McKenzie S.A.S.’ ‘top-notch practice’ is well positioned to deal with a very volatile market, thanks to its ‘vast expertise in the sector’ and its experience in handling challenging instructions. The eight-lawyer team is led by Alejandro Mesa, who is well respected for his knowledge in mining, upstream oil and gas, and power generation as well as project finance and regulatory issues. Oil and gas expert Ciro Meza and associate Felipe Correa are also key members of the team. Mesa and Jaime Trujillo led advice to Alfa on its $1.7m offer to acquire a majority stake in Pacific Rubiales Energy Corporation; and the firm also acted as lead counsel to Enbridge on the negotiation and structuring of a development cost support agreement in connection with its $5bn midstream project, Oleoducto al Pacífico.

The ‘reputed’, 18-strong energy team at Brigard & Urrutia is recognised for ‘its deep knowledge of local law and its negotiation skills’. Its expertise covers energy, natural resources, environmental, corporate finance, infrastructure and regulatory matters. Managing partner Carlos Umaña and Carlos Urrutia head the practice and are well versed in corporate, infrastructure and regulatory instructions; they are assisted by associates Claudia Navarro, Marianna Boza and Guillermo Tejeiro. Work highlights included advising Dolphin Drilling on matters relating to its contract with Anadarko to provide seismic services including the incorporation of a SPV, related tax advice, and negotiations with the Colombian authorities. The team also acted for Denham Capital, an energy-focused private equity firm, on its $14m acquisition of a participation in oil-and-gas corporation Platino Energy Corp.

Dentons Cardenas & Cardenas is an active player in the energy and natural resources arena, especially in the areas of mining and oil and gas, and is recommended for regulatory and financing advice. Bernardo Cárdenas leads the seven-strong practice, with James Valdiri and associate Inés Elvira Vesga also noted. Headline work included acting for Rio Tinto on the acquisition by Minera Cobre de Colombia of nine mining titles (granting exploration and exploitation rights) in several municipalities of Colombia, with an aggregate value of $24m. The team is also advising an investment corporation specialising in investments in energy, infrastructure and natural resources on the acquisition of assets in the upstream oil-and-gas sector, covering due diligence and the drafting and negotiation of contracts. Emerald Energy, Pluspetrol Colombia and Xstrata are among its other clients.

Gómez-Pinzón Zuleta fields a ‘multi-disciplinary team with great expertise in the hydrocarbons area’, and attracts substantial instructions in the energy and natural resources arena, with notable experience in oil-and-gas financings, tax and corporate matters. It also has a strong mining practice, and acts for an impressive list of companies in the sector. The ‘understanding and reliable’ Patricia Arrázola heads the mining practice, while Germán Villamil leads on the natural resources side and Lina Uribe heads the environment practice. The firm advised Canacol Energy on a credit line for $200m to be used to repay existing obligations with Credit Suisse and also for oil-and-gas exploration activities in Colombia, Panama and Ecuador; and is acting for an international energy corporation on its acquisition of a major company in the downstream sector which owns more than 100 gas stations across the country.

Norton Rose Fulbright maintains its presence in the energy and natural resources market, with ‘an excellent practice’ praised as ‘responsive, pragmatic and very approachable’; it is also able to draw on the wider firm’s considerable strengths in the sector. The 11-strong team is led by Venezuela-trained mining specialist Jorge Neher; Leopoldo Olavarría, who is noted for his energy expertise; and Hernán Rodríguez, whose practice covers energy, infrastructure and mining. The firm advised Pacific Rubiales on a memorandum of understanding agreed with PEMEX to explore business ventures in the oil and gas sector in Mexico; and is also assisting an energy concern in relation to the acquisition of a Colombian fuel distribution corporation. Other clients include Ecopetrol, Anglo Gold Ashanti and Anglo American Colombia.

Sanclemente Fernández Abogados S.A. is ‘a visible and recognised name in the energy sector’. The firm prides itself on its personalised service and ability to respond to complex challenges, and has a well-deserved reputation for its work across upstream exploration, midstream refining and transportation, and downstream commercialisation, covering contracts, joint ventures, operating agreements and administrative proceedings. Recent work includes advising an oil-and-gas investment corporation on several related transactions with an aggregate value of $6m; and assisting BG North Sea Holdings in relation to the administrative steps required for its opening of operations in Colombia. Industrial Consulting is also a client. José Gabriel Fernández, Antonio Sanclemente, Bibiana Camacho and Diana Sanclemente are the key contacts.

Durán & Osorio Abogados Asociados is a strong player in the energy and natural resources arena; it has a particular focus on hydrocarbon, power and mining projects, and is experienced in concession bids and related matters. The ‘very knowledgeable and experiencedGustavo Osorio heads the team, and managing partner Álvaro Durán and senior partner Gabriel Taboada are also notable members of the practice. The firm has been instructed by the National Planning Department to advise, as part of a team of experts, on the structuring of a PPP for the construction, operation and maintenance of the water supply and sewerage serving the city of Santa Marta. It is also advising Valrex on the structuring of a BOMT contract for the construction of a $10m wastewater plant.

Godoy & Hoyos Abogados’ small but active energy practice is led by the ‘experienced’ Juan Pablo Godoy. It is regularly instructed by significant players operating in the mining and oil-and-gas industries, drawing on extensive expertise in regulatory, contractual, environmental and tax matters. Work highlights included advising Cenit on the structuring, negotiation and closing of its $20m sale of six hydrocarbon plants; and assisting ExxonMobil in relation to regulatory, foreign exchange, customs and tax issues regarding its operation in Colombia. Other clients include Pacific Rubiales, Pacific Infrastructure and Zandor Capital.

Holland & Knight’s team provides ‘excellent services in all respects, including response times, fit-for-purpose advice and value for money’. The team is led by José Vicente Zapata, who is ‘very knowledgeable in Colombian law, and very reliable’. It recently advised an oil-and-gas multinational on merger clearance proceedings before the national authorities in relation to its acquisition of a Colombian corporation. Clients include Isagen, Rayovac Varta and Cerro Matoso.

Known for its specialist mining practice, Lloreda Camacho & Co.’s energy department acts in areas including title investigations, contracts, due diligence and administrative/judicial disputes involving native communities’ rights. Practice head Ignacio Santamaría is vastly experienced in administrative, customs, mining and contractual law, and also related disputes. Clients include Antioquia Gold, Minerales Cordoba, Red Eagle and Continental Gold.

Muñoz Tamayo & Asociados works for clients on exploration and exploitation mandates, with particular experience in dealing with the authorities in relation to licensing for exploration concessions. The firm is also known for its regulatory expertise in environmental issues and the rights of native communities. Previous mandates have included advising Vetra Colombia on environmental contingency issues, while other clients have included Geopark Colombia, Meta Petroleum, Banco Central Hispano-Americano and Odebrecht.

A new entry to the ranking, Chalela | Abogados has strength on the regulatory side as well as in contractual and corporate/M&A matters, and its clients include a number of companies in the power sector, across generation, distribution and commercialisation; the team’s expertise takes in non-regulated areas such as offtake agreements, PPAs and raw material supply agreements. The firm recently acted for an international lead arranger on a $280m refinancing for the expansion of a power transmission line. Federico Chalela - is recommended.

Palacios Lleras’ practice is ‘prestigious, and has unparalleled expertise’. The multi-disciplinary group advises private companies and entities of the state alike, in areas such as mining, oil and gas, and environmental, and also has strong litigation capabilities. Major corporations such as Drummond and Isolux are among its clients. Hugo Palacios Mejía is ‘knowledgeable and always ready to help’, and Oscar Gutiérrez Herrán is also a key contact.

Pinilla, González & Prieto’s practice is focused on the environmental regulatory side of projects and licence applications. The three-lawyer team is led by environmental expert Claudia Mora, and assists local and international clients in the construction, infrastructure, power, oil and gas, mining and services sectors; examples include Carboquímica, Constructora Bolívar and Constructora Conconcreto.

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