Oil and gas in Argentina
Alliani & Bruzzon
Highly respected boutique Alliani & Bruzzon maintains a leading reputation for its ‘strong specialist expertise in oil and gas matters’ and clients say it ‘understands the industry inside out’. The firm provides comprehensive support across a broad range of transactional, contentious and regulatory matters, with notable experience in the upstream sector. Names to note in the ‘definitely top-tier practice’ include managing partner Pablo Alliani (‘a very clever guy and a clear specialist in the oil and gas field’), transactional energy expert Fernando Brunelli and of counsel Alejandro D‘Onofrio. The group acts for an enviable roster of major multinational energy clients, including Axion Energy, Chevron and Golden Oil Corporation. Among its sweet spots, the firm brings to bear deep experience in advising on projects in the Vaca Muerta formation, and it recently advised Chevron on issues relating to its agreements with YPF to develop the Loma Campana and Loma La Lata blocks.
The ‘highly commercial and pragmatic’ Martínez de Hoz & Rueda’s signature oil and gas offering ranks ‘among the best in Argentina’, according to satisfied clients. Particular praise is reserved for its ‘excellent combination of legal skills with a problem-solving approach’ and one client asserts that ‘it stands as a reference point on how to resolve complex industry issues’. The department’s impeccable balance is another recurring theme and it attracts wide acclaim for its broad sector expertise across the full spread of regulatory, transactional and contentious, particularly arbitral, matters. José Martínez de Hoz, who pairs regulatory with transactional prowess, is ‘one of the best oil and gas specialists in Argentina’ and recently advised Trafigura on its acquisition of the downstream business of Pampa Energía. He also teamed up with Tomás Lanardonne (‘a top expert in oil and gas regulation and contracts’), Juan Cruz Azzarri and the M&A practice to advise ExxonMobil Exploration Argentina on the acquisition of a 21% stake in midstream company Oldelval from Pampa Energía. Other names to note include senior partner Pablo Rueda, who is an ‘excellent counsel’ and co-leads the department alongside Martínez de Hoz, and talented associate Marcos Blanco.
‘Top-tier oil and gas practice’ Marval O’Farrell Mairal’s ‘extremely strong group’ is admired for its ‘impressive roster of clients’ and its ‘consistent involvement in key matters’. The team, which is well balanced between corporate, commercial and contentious work, is best known for its track record in multi-jurisdictional issues and it often leans on other departments within the firm to provide support on complex cases. Among its recent highlights, group head Francisco Macías acted hand-in-hand with the corporate and tax departments to advise BP on a joint venture with Bridas and CNOOC to form Pan American Energy Group. He is also leading the firm’s advice to various Argentine and Chilean clients in connection with several natural gas cross-border transactions; notably, these represent the first energy transactions between Chile and Argentina since 2010. On the contentious side, Macías represented gas distribution utility Litoral Gas in disputes concerning long-term gas supply contracts. Corporate finance partner Ricardo Beller is also a key contact.
Bazán Cambré & Orts
Mid-size outfit Bazán Cambré & Orts stands out as a well-established specialist in the oil and gas arena, with strong skill sets in both transactional and regulatory matters. Particularly active in the upstream and midstream sectors, it also has significant downstream experience and, although compact, it can draw upon robust supplementary expertise in administrative and environmental law. High-profile figure Mario Orts is widely regarded as ‘an excellent and very strong expert’; he steers a department that counts ConocoPhillips, Noble Energy and Candu Energy, Sucursal Argentina among its key clients. Transactional oil and gas partner Nicolás Dilernia is also recommended.
Among Bruchou, Fernández Madero & Lombardi’s key attributes, clients highlight its ‘excellent attention to detail’, ‘personalised and committed service’ and ‘strong expertise in all segments of the energy business’. Group head Javier Rodríguez Galli, held up by many as a ‘leading oil and gas expert’, spearheads an increasingly high-profile team that is the first port of call for a burgeoning number of major multinational clients. Rodríguez Galli recently paired up with the M&A group to advise Vista Oil & Gas on the $400m acquisition of Argentine assets from Pampa Energía, including a controlling stake in Petrolera Entre Lomas. In another upstream highlight, he continues to advise Petronas E&P Argentina on the development, with YPF, of La Amarga Chica field. The group also benefits from a talented second line of associates, with María Agostina Milani singled out for her ‘strong knowledge, which provides comfort from both a legal and commercial standpoint’.
The ‘resurgent’ practice at Nicholson y Cano Abogados secures glowing praise for its recent activity in the shale gas area, with clients highlighting it as ‘really present in the market on the transactional side’. The ‘effective and efficient team’, which is well versed across a comprehensive spread of exploration, exploitation, transportation and distribution matters, is also keeping busy on the regulatory and contentious fronts. In a headline piece of M&A work, department co-lead Nicolás Perkins acted for Qatar Petroleum International on its acquisition of a minority interest in several concessions in the Vaca Muerta formation from affiliates of ExxonMobil. In another Vaca Muerta-related highlight, Mariana Guzian advised YPF on the amendment of project agreements with Chevron for the first shale oil projects in Argentina. Marcelo Lamesa co-leads a practice that also counts BP subsidiary Castrol, Pluspetrol and Shell as key clients.
Oil and gas work is a sweet spot for Alfaro-Abogados and it acts for an impressive portfolio of multinational clients on financing, M&A, project development and regulatory matters. China and US-based companies are a significant source of instructions and the energy group leans on the firm’s representative offices in Beijing and New York for support on cross-border matters. Carlos Alfaro and Sebastián Rodrigo co-lead a department that acts for Sinopec, China Petroleum Technology & Development Corporation and Parker Drilling.
Baker McKenzie’s oil and gas practice is best known for its representation of major oilfield services companies, including Schlumberger, Superior Energy Services and Texproil. Transactional and regulatory specialist Roberto Grané co-leads the department and paired up with Ezequiel Artola to advise Energicon, as operator, on securing title to the Vaca Mahuida area. Artola also acted alongside group co-head Adolfo Durañona to advise Spectrum on its offshore operations in Argentina, including the request for offshore seismic permits in three areas.
The ‘very commercial’ group at Beccar Varela continues to strengthen its profile on the upstream front — it also has significant downstream experience. Corporate finance specialist Roberto Fortunati heads the department and is noted for his ‘strong industry and legal knowledge’; he advised American Energy Partners on its initial agreements with YPF for the exploration and development of the Vaca Muerta formation. Enap Sipetrol is also a key client and the firm assisted it with several recent matters, including on the sale of its participation in the Pampa del Castillo-La Guitarra concession to Capex. José Carlos Cueva is also recommended.
A popular choice for complex issues, Martelli Abogados is lauded by many as a ‘go-to firm on the regulatory front’ — it also handles transactional and contentious work. Among the names to note, founding partner and industry expert Hugo Martelli is widely revered as a ‘leader in the Argentine market’ for his deep sector expertise, which spans upstream and midstream matters. The team also benefits from the senior experience of ‘well-known specialist’ Pablo de Rosso, who handles transactional oil and gas matters.
Estudio O'Farrell’s oil and gas practice, which sits within the firm’s wider public law and economic regulation department, is best known for its ‘deep experience and knowledge of industry regulation’. Indeed, as one client points out, ‘some of its partners were even involved in the design of the current market regulation’, which is a significant benefit on complex administrative law cases. Senior partner Uriel O’Farrell is a key contact for energy regulation and disputes; he acted alongside public law expert Agustín Siboldi to represent Pampa Energía on the renegotiation of the conditions of the national incentive scheme for the production of natural gas. Axion Energy is also a key client and O’Farrell, Siboldi and Agustina Fanelli Evans advise it on day-to-day regulatory and antitrust issues.
The renovation of Pérez Alati, Grondona, Benites & Arntsen's hydrocarbons practice continues apace under the leadership of Francisco Javier Romano, who can draw on over 20 years' in-house experience at leading energy-sector corporates including Bridas, Pan American Energy and Chevron. His February 2018 incorporation was followed by that of senior associates Nicole Jaureguiberry, who focuses on public and administrative law; and Valeria Stemkauskas, a corporate and transactional lawyer who arrived from YPF where she spent over four years as a senior lawyer. Energy-focused associate Ignacio Payarola is also noted on a 13-strong team that also includes three other commercial and transactional partners. Recent mandates include advising Phoenix Global Resources on a $100m expansion of its involvement in Vaca Muerta's shale gas deposits ; and assisting Chevron with the sale of its Rio Negro-located oil-and-gas concessions Puesto Flores and Estancia Vieja to President Petroleum, and Loma Negra and La Yesera to Capex Group. Other recent matters include the purchase of a participating interest in three oil and gas concessions in the Province of Tierra del Fuego and the granting of the first non-conventional hydrocarbon concession in the Province of Mendoza. Clients include Mercuria Energy Group, San Antonio International, Petrobras, Total, Wintershall Argentina, Sinopec Argentina and Petrolera El Trebol.
Abeledo Gottheil Abogados
Abeledo Gottheil Abogados is recommended for its strong track record across the regulatory, commercial and arbitration areas, with notable experience in both downstream and upstream matters. Regulatory heavyweight Luis Erize is widely regarded as a leader in energy arbitration. Pablo Pinnel is also a key contact.
Allende & Brea’s multidisciplinary oil and gas practice handles a diverse spread of contractual, regulatory and M&A matters for an impressive stable of domestic and international companies. Key clients include Weatherford, which the team advises on day-to-day operational matters — oil and gas head Marcos Patrón Costas leads that work, together with the corporate department.
Mitrani Caballero & Ruiz Moreno Abogados’ practice, which is highlighted for its ‘good communication across disciplines’, continues to go from strength to strength under the leadership of Mariana Ardizzone. The team is also noted for its ‘strong and broad knowledge base’ and handles a varied mix of transactional and regulatory matters for domestic and multinational clients. Highlights included advising Echo Energy on its acquisition of interests in oil and gas assets in Argentina.
Zang, Bergel & Viñes Abogados
At Zang, Bergel & Viñes Abogados, energy and natural resources head Amalia Sáenz is recommended for regulatory, commercial and corporate finance matters. Among the group’s recent highlights, Sáenz advised Destilería Argentinas de Petróleo on the acquisition of an oil stock terminal in Dock Sud. Other key clients include Andino Holdings USA and Profertil.