Hydrocarbons in Brazil
According to sources, Mattos Filho, Veiga Filho, Marrey Jr. e Quiroga Advogados’ ‘efficient, responsive and practical’ team is composed of ‘impeccable lawyers’, who all demonstrate ‘excellent expertise and knowledge about the hydrocarbons industry’. The enviably balanced practice is routinely engaged by major industry participants - particularly oil and gas companies, oilfield service providers, investors and financial institutions - across a comprehensive range of transactional and regulatory matters, including corporate finance, project development and litigation. In 2018, the firm advised BP Energy do Brasil, Ecopetrol and ExxonMobil Exploração Brasil on their bids in the fifth production-sharing bid round. The work included two successful bids for the Pau-Brasil block (which saw BP and Ecopetrol team up with CNOOC) and the Titã block (which saw Exxon pair up with QPI Brasil Petróleo); Giovani Loss advised BP and the ‘business-oriented and knowledgeable’ Felipe Rodrigues Caldas Feres advised ExxonMobil. The same team also advised Petrovida (a joint venture between Vitol Investment Partnership II, Africa Oil and Delonex Energy) on the local aspects of its $1.5bn acquisition of 50% interest in Petrobras Oil & Gas. The firm also benefits from an impressive second line of senior associates, with Danielle Ludwig and ‘outstanding young lawyer’ Bruno Chedid standing out as rising stars.
‘Available, experienced and to-the-point’, lawyers at Mayer Brown stand out for their ‘in-depth knowledge of the oil-and-gas industry in Brazil and abroad’ and for their ability to provide ‘precise, business-focused advice without unnecessarily complicating things’. Among its highlights, Bruno Belchior (‘one of the best E&P lawyers in Brazil’) advised Parnaíba Gás Natural on its $54.5m acquisition of the Azulão oil field from Petrobras. In another headline deal, department head Alexandre Chequer acted alongside Belchior to advise Barra Energia (wholly-owned by Riverstone and First Reserve), on a $379m farm-out transaction with Equinor Brazil. On the contentious side, Chequer represented Barra Energia in an oil and gas-related arbitration concerning the offshore Atlanta Field. The group also benefits from the senior experience of Victor Galante and the recent addition of Alexandre Calmon (‘an outstanding lawyer with profound knowledge of oil-and-gas law’), who joined from Vieira, Rezende, Barbosa e Guerreiro Advogados.
Schmidt, Valois, Miranda, Ferreira & Agel Advogados secures rave reviews from sources for its ‘deep knowledge of the industry and international practice’, ‘extremely dedicated professionals’ and ‘practical and commercial advice’. The boutique firm’s specialist oil-and-gas expertise encompasses the full array of upstream, midstream and downstream matters and it is a popular choice for some of the biggest names in the industry, including Shell, Total and Inpex. In a key transactional highlight, group co-heads Paulo Valois Pires (‘an excellent energy lawyer’) and Rogério Sobral de Miranda (‘very knowledgeable and hands-on’) paired up to advise ExxonMobil Exploração Brasil on its $1.3bn acquisition of a 33% stake in block BM-S-8 from Statoil Brasil Óleo e Gás. On the regulatory side, Antônio Luís Ferreira paired up with Valois Pires to advise GNA, which holds authorisation for the construction and operation of a 1238MW thermal plant as part of the high-profile Açu Gas Hub project, on regulatory and contractual issues. Other key names include Luis Fernando Pacheco (‘combines commerciality with an encyclopaedic knowledge of Brazilian oil and gas law’) and Sonia Agel.
A historically strong performer in oil-and-gas deals, Cescon, Barrieu, Flesch & Barreto Advogados also attracts praise for its non-transactional practice, with sources commending its ‘breadth of expertise across the oil-and-gas life cycle, including regulatory and antitrust issues’. In a recent example of its growing regulatory prominence, the firm was engaged to advise BNDES on both the structuring of the privatisation of MSGÁS and on the restructuring of the gas distribution regulatory framework in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. The team, which ‘combines genuine industry specialists with a practical approach’, is led jointly by Rafael Baleroni, who demonstrates ‘in-depth knowledge of key issues throughout the oil-and-gas chain, from downstream to upstream and offshore assets’, and the ‘very responsive and collaborative’ Maurício Teixeira dos Santos.
Vieira, Rezende, Barbosa e Guerreiro Advogados
The ‘client-focused’ team at Vieira, Rezende, Barbosa e Guerreiro Advogados differentiates itself through its ‘proactive, clear and responsive service’, according to sources. Oil-and-gas work stands as a key pillar of the firm and the group impresses with its specialist expertise in certain key areas, particularly upstream matters, where it is widely considered a market leader, as well as offshore oil and gas and project finance. Daniela Ribeiro is a key contact for energy regulation and, together with Carlos Costa e Silva, recently represented BW Offshore in its claim against Petrobras concerning the application of a contractual clause allowing the latter to make unilateral discounts on the amounts owed to BW. Consultant Ricardo Martinez de Almeida recently joined the team from Petrobras, while Joyce Jacobsen was promoted to partner. In 2018, Alexandre Calmon left for Tauil & Chequer Advogados in association with Mayer Brown.
In 2018, Campos Mello Advogados bolstered its practice with the hire of Paulo Lopes from Tauil & Chequer Advogados in association with Mayer Brown, who strengthens the team’s capability in upstream matters and M&A structuring. The group, which counts Chevron and Murphy Oil among its clients, also has strong supplementary expertise in infrastructure, finance and environmental matters. Leonardo Costa, David Leinig Meiler and consultant Sandoval Amui are recommended.
Machado Meyer Sendacz e Opice Advogados’ ‘high-quality practice’ attracts praise from sources for its ‘international outlook’ and ‘good matter management’. The team, which is best known for complex multifaceted transactional mandates, counts Petrobras as a key client and it has advised the Brazilian oil-and-gas giant on several matters over the past year; most notably, it handled the $370m sale of three shallow-water oil fields in the Campos Basin to Perenco. Oil-and-gas lead Daniel Szyfman and projects specialist José Virgílio Lopes Enei are highlighted together as ‘first-class experts in the energy and infrastructure fields’.
A popular choice for ‘high-stakes and highly complex matters’, Pinheiro Neto Advogados is valued for its ‘precise, efficient and actionable legal support’, which is backed-up by a ‘strong understanding of business context’. The multidisciplinary group, which leans heavily on the firm’s much-admired corporate and M&A department, has a strong focus on transactional matters but also houses vast experience in energy regulation. Marcelo Viveiros de Moura recently advised a consortium, comprised of Mubadala Investment Company and EIG Global energy, on its competitive bid for Petrobras subsidiary Transportadora Associada de Gás. Marcello Portes da Silveira Lobo provides ‘cutting-edge solutions and a unique capability to anticipate risks’.
Trench Rossi Watanabe’s oil-and-gas practice brings to bear specialist skill sets across a wide scope of oil-and-gas issues, including constitutional and public law matters, corporate finance transactions, energy regulation and dispute resolution. On the transactional front, the group advised RWE Supply & Trading on its investment into DBO Energy - José Roberto Martins and Danielle Valois led that work. Anna Tavares de Mello is another key contact in a group that also counts BP, Petrobras and Shell Brasil among its clients.
Veirano Advogados’ ‘pragmatic and responsive’ approach strikes the right note with sources, who commend its lawyers as ‘receptive to suggestions’ and able to provide ‘practical guidance and solutions to meet the client’s objectives’. The group, which routinely acts for companies in the downstream, midstream and upstream sectors, is equally adept in transactional and regulatory matters. Highlights included advising BP Gas Marketing on its joint venture with Prumo Logistica to build an LNG terminal, gas pipeline, gas trading company and two power plants in the Port of Açú. Ali El Hage Filho, Andre Carvalho and the ‘knowledgeable, practical and commercial’ Rogério Campos co-lead the department.
The oil-and-gas team at Demarest Advogados is composed of ‘exceptionally high-quality and professional lawyers’, according to sources. The multidisciplinary practice continues to raise its profile in the sector and was engaged on a series of headline transactions over the past year. Most notably, it advised QPI Brasil Petróleo, as part of a consortium with ExxonMobil Brasil, on its successful R$3.1bn bid for the Titã oil block. João Luis Ribeiro de Almeida, who provides ‘great legal guidance in a very commercial manner’, is the name to note.
MMA Advogados has an increasingly prominent reputation for pipeline-related work - for both energy companies and oilfield services providers. In a key example of ongoing work, the team advises Sinopec on day-to-day matters concerning the Southeast-Northeast Gas Pipeline, including contentious construction matters. Marcelo Oliveira Mello is recommended.
Siqueira Castro – Advogados handles a mix of contentious, environmental and regulatory work for key industry names, including Petrobras Transporte, National Oilwell Varco and White Martins Gases Industriais. Among its recent cases, it represented Petrobras Transporte in a $10m recovery claim against Techno Layer Tecnologia Em Revestimento. Carlos Roberto Siqueira Castro and Rodrigo Alexander Calazans Macedo are the key contacts.