Energy and natural resources in Colombia
Posse Herrera Ruiz is particularly knowledgeable in the hydrocarbons sector, as well as having expertise in power generation - including renewables - and environmental law. The ‘effective, knowledgeable, commercially oriented, extremely responsive and fast-paced’ Álvaro José Rodríguez leads a ‘high-quality’ five-strong team that is ‘interlinked with other practice areas’ and has ‘the foresight to identify future risks in any project and tackle them in a proactive manner’. The former legal director of Trafigura in Colombia, Mariana Sanchez is recommended for her ‘effectiveness in major project structuring and complex problem-solving challenges’. The practice advised international independent oil-and-gas companies on onshore and offshore projects and on negotiations and consultations with national regulator ANH regarding a new template contract for deep-sea concessions that was eventually launched in March 2019. The practice also helps these same independent players with the conversion of technical evaluation agreements into exploration and production agreements. The team advised Arrow Exploration on its entry into the Colombian market as both investor and operator with the acquisition of Canacol’s oil fields. It also provides permanent advice to Conoco Phillips, with recent work including assistance regarding a class action seeking the prohibition of the exploration and production of unconventional hydrocarbons. In conventional and renewable power generation and transmission, highlights included acting for Northland Power in the bidding process for the construction of a transmission line to link renewable energy generation facilities in the Guajira region to the national grid. Other clients include Shell, Vestas, Enerfin, Hidrocasanare and GDF Suez. Special counsel Diana Salazar is also noted.
Sanclemente Fernández Abogados S.A.
‘One-stop shop’ Sanclemente Fernández Abogados S.A. advises highly relevant local and international clients in the oil, gas and mining sectors; the practice’s energy offering also covers power transmission matters. Oil and gas is very much the firm’s sweet spot and leading lawyer Diana Sanclemente is also regional Latin American director for the Association of International Petroleum Negotiators (AIPN); she heads the nine-strong team, with José Gabriel Fernández and Antonio Sanclemente as other key practice contacts. Recent work has seen the firm assist independent oil-and-gas companies with the preparation of bids for various competitive bid processes launched by energy-sector regulator ANH. The team also participated in the discussions for the final draft of the new E&P Offshore minutes released by the ANH. Other highlights in this area included proceedings related to the qualification of a pipeline and participation in discussions about the exploitation of unconventional resources. In the mining sector, the team has been active with due diligence work, among other matters, and on the contentious front, Donaldo Ariza acted for an energy group in a contractual dispute.
With a tradition of involvement in all aspects of the oil and gas sector, Baker McKenzie S.A.S.’s experience in power generation projects has also been growing lately, with the team undertaking various wind, solar, biomass and electricity transmission projects. On the development front, the practice advised Oak Creek Energy, Voltalia, SC Solar and SPV Villanueva on new power generation projects. Alejandro Mesa heads the nine-strong team with partners Claudia Benavides, Ciro Meza and Andrés Crump attending to relevant contentious, transactional, and private equity activity and tax matters, respectively. Recent matters included advising MAC Johnson Controls on the negotiation, finalisation and execution of an amendment to its existing natural gas supply agreement with Gas Natural. In mining, the team assisted Texas Mining and Associates with the acquisition of one of the most important emerald projects in the country, comprising several mines in the municipalities of Quipama and Muzo. The practice also advised a number of well-known international extractive companies in environmental due diligence and compliance matters. Clients include Trafigura, Schlumberger, ONGC Videsh, Petrobras, Brookfield and Talis Capital.
Brigard Urrutia receives praise for ‘knowing how to work as a team and ensuring that the client gets all of the knowledge and support required from many different partners as needed’. Managing partner Carlos Umaña and senior partner Carlos Urrutia Valenzuela head the 11-strong practice, which also includes natural resources director (and head of the Venezuela desk) Marianna Boza and senior associate Guillermo Tejeiro; both ‘stand out’. Directors of the infrastructure and the renewable energy practices Claudia Navarro and Manuel Quinche are also well regarded. The team represented Ashmore Asset Management in the negotiation of an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) and an operation and maintenance (O&M) agreement with Morelco, to build and operate a regional transmission line in La Guajira. Other highlights encompassed advising Faro Energy on conducting its renewable energy projects and advising Sloane on structuring the EPC and PPA agreements for a thermal generation project. In mining, the practice is ‘more dynamic than other firms and has a strong tradition in all areas of law, which is very relevant’; it is assisting new foreign mining investors including Newmont, Newcrest, Fortescue, High Power Exploration, Hochschild, La Mancha and First Quantum. Oil and gas-related activity included advising ONGC Videsh on day-to-day matters related to E&P contracts concerning several onshore and offshore oilfields. The team is also representing Enagas to develop the Pacific Coast regasification plant. Ecopetrol, Frontera Energy, Hades Energy Holding and Inversiones Colombianas Arauco are also on the client roster.
Dentons Cardenas & Cardenas is best known for M&A activity in the mining and oil-and-gas sectors, including transactions involving multiple jurisdictions. Mining is an area of particular expertise with the practice considerably strengthened as a result of the October 2017 incorporation of a team from Norton Rose Fulbright led by Jorge Neher, who has over 30 years’ experience in the sector. He co-heads the 11-strong team with noted practitioners Bernardo Cárdenas and Santiago González. The practice acts on behalf of both financial institutions and operators in seeking financing for projects. Another key member of the practice, Hernán Rodríguez led the advice to Iamgold regarding an option agreement for the acquisition of various mining assets in Antioquia, as well as acting for the miner in a judicial proceeding before an administrative tribunal that could set a precedent concerning popular consultations in the mining industry. Recent matters include assisting Gran Tierra Energy with the acquisition of a participating interest and operatorship in a contract held by Vetra Exploración & Producción, as well as two farm-in agreements for the acquisition of a participating interest and operatorship in two other contracts held by Vetra E&P. Other matters included assisting Consepetro in the competitive process held in Ecuador for contracts by state oil-and-gas operator Petroamazonas. Other clients include Anglo Gold Ashanti, Royal Road Minerals and Gran Colombia Gold. María Margarita Lorduy joined as director of the environment practice in June 2019.
Gómez-Pinzón Abogados (GPA) works in all key segments of the energy and natural resources space with a multi-disciplinary team that ‘comprehensively addresses’ all issues that arise in each stage of a project, ‘especially in Colombia where the normality is complex’. Leading lawyer Patricia Arrázola heads the eight-strong practice with Germán Villamil, leading on oil and gas, and head of environment Lina Uribe also key names. Their ‘availability is crucial for making decisions in an agile and safe way’, according to clients. The team advised Ecopetrol regarding the acquisition of four offshore technical evaluation agreements, one of the first offshore farm-out transactions in the country. In the power market, the firm gave advice to clients participating in energy auctions, including the first long-term PPA auction in Colombia, held in January 2019. In one recent mandate, the team assisted Termocandelaria with all matters related to its gas turbines conversion, as well as participation in the reliability charge auction and securing firm energy obligations. The practice renders comprehensive advice for the development of renewable energy projects, both solar and wind-powered; Sunco Capital, SGEIC and Invenery were advised on investing in photovoltaic projects, including the acquisition of real estate for the project’s development, the structuring and negotiation of PPAs, and tax. Clients include Iberoamericana de Hidrocarburos, Oleoducto de Colombia, ABB and Canacol Energy.
Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría recently incorporated corporate environmental law boutique Macías Gómez Abogados, led by Luis Fernando Macías, who has over 25 years’ experience in the area. Sandra Manrique heads the practice, which provides comprehensive advice on the development of mining, oil-and-gas and power projects, including renewal energy. The team advised Mechero Energy on the development of a natural gas power plant, including the negotiation of the connection contracts with the network operator. For Geopark, the team continues to work on the structuring of a self-generation project, including a bidding process for the selection of a contractor and the preparation of the services agreement for the development and operation of a natural gas power plant. The firm also acted for South32 Energy on the incorporation of a power and natural gas commercialisation company. Other highlights included advising Diana Corporación on the development of a biomass power generation project. On the mining front, it advised Anglogold Ashanti on the definition of a legal strategy to approach the mining authority to terminate all pending proceedings. Other clients include BHP Billiton, Ecopetrol and Vitol Colombia.
Clients particularly value Holland & Knight’s ‘proximity’ and availability to attend to urgent issues in a timely fashion, providing ‘concrete results and showing a comprehensive understanding of the needs of the client’. The practice covers the full scope of energy and natural resources work, with an emphasis on environmental law. The 13-strong team is led by the highly recommended José Vicente Zapata, who has over 20 years’ experience in the sector; Zapata and associate Margarita Solorza are noted for their ‘constant support’. The practice reinforced the oil-and-gas desk with the incorporation of Inés Elvira Vesga, who formerly led the hydrocarbons practice at Norton Rose Fulbright, which has now left the Colombian market. The team is currently advising several international independent oil-and-gas companies and miners in relation to regulatory and environmental matters, including representation in legal proceedings such as class actions and damages suits, related to their operations in the country.
Lloreda Camacho & Co.’s practice is specialised in the mining and environmental segments, assisting in the acquisition of companies and mining titles, processing environmental licenses, and acting in litigation involving local communities’ rights, among other matters. Ignacio Santamaría heads the four-strong team, with senior associate Angela María Salazar also noted; the team is currently participating in the preparation of a project to amend the mining code on behalf of the Colombian Mining Association, in connection with illegal decrees and resolutions issued by the mining authorities. In other mandates, the practice is advising Antioquia Gold in relation to environmental permits and prior consultation processes, and assisting Continental Gold with the restructuring of the Dojurá project, located in the department of Chocó. Other clients include Minera Cobre de Colombia, Minera Vetas and Red Eagle Mining.
Muñoz Tamayo & Asociados focuses on environmental and collective law, acting for clients from the mining, oil and gas, and energy sectors on the licensing of exploration concessions, as well as in litigation. Juan Manuel Sabogal heads the six-strong practice, with Carlos Mantilla Gómez - the former legal manager of CCX Colombia - also a key member. The team advised GeoPark on entering into legal proceedings to defend oil easements and on the development of an ancillary road. Other mandates included advising Explotaciones Carboníferas Yerbabuena on the judicial process before the Council of the State regarding the capacity of regional environmental authorities to prohibit mining activities in certain environmentally sensitive areas. In the power sector, the firm advised a leading international solar company on the preparation of a proposal for a government auction of long-term energy contracts. Other clients include Monster Energy, Grupo Chía, Constructora Bolívar, Explotaciones and Exsa.
Founded in 2016, boutique Angulo Martínez & Abogados specialises in the electricity market, with particular experience in renewables such as wind and solar power. The firm assisted Grupo Renovation with obtaining an environmental licence, the first of its kind due to the project’s large capacity, for a 212MW wind farm in the La Guajira region. It has previously assisted the client in four other wind projects and one solar project in the same region. Begonia Power and Grupo Renovation sought the practice’s legal support when presenting their 800MW wind farm project to the reliability charge auction held in February 2019. Founding partner Juan José Angulo ‘has proven knowledge and specific skills in designing and developing electricity projects according to regulations’ and the firm receives praise for attending to clients' needs quickly. Clients include Grupo Solaer, Grupo Manuelita and Ecopetrol spin-off Cenit.
Long established as a prominent international trade and customs boutique, Araújo Ibarra also advises companies on the implementation of environmental due diligence and provides advice regarding the application of environmental tax benefits. Javier Trillos heads the four-strong team. Work highlights included carrying out environmental impact studies for three different projects of ENR Colombia and the attainment of environmental tax benefits for KESCO (Kosovo Company for Supply of Energy) for the Karibaná Project by implementing energy provisions through non-conventional energy sources and emission reductions.
Boutique Chalela | Abogados’ legal offering, including corporate and dispute resolution, is oriented primarily towards the oil-and-gas industry, but also attracts a wider, energy-related service company clientele. The eight-strong practice, led by Federico Chalela, has been advising and representing 12 oil-and-gas production and trading companies (including Repsol, Frontera Energy and Gunvor among others), in preparation for the 2019 crude pipeline rate-making procedures and methodology. The matters included representation in connection to the regulatory framework applicable to the crude oil pipeline tariff statutes.
New entrant CMS Rodríguez-Azuero recently advised the Ministry of Mines and Energy on the comparative review of the contractual model for the allocation of offshore blocks; the input was taken by national regulator AHN for the amendment of the template contract for deep-sea concessions. The advice was provided by the firm in conjunction with CMS’ offices in Brazil, Mexico, Angola and the UK. The local team is also advising Grupo de Energía de Bogotá regarding the electricity and natural gas sectors’ regulatory and public law requirements. Daniel Rodríguez heads the four-strong practice. Other clients include South 32 Energy and Global Green Growth Institute.
Durán & Osorio Abogados Asociados’ expertise in special regulations regarding energy generation and water resources is widely recognised due to the firm’s profound niche expertise in the construction and operation of public services utilities. Jorge Gabriel Taboada and Gustavo Osorio lead the team, with Álvaro Gasca a third key figure. The firm is structuring the PPP projects of Canoas wastewater treatment plant in the city of Soacha, as well as the water supply and sewage system of the city of Santa Marta. It is also advising the Superintendence of Public Utilities with regard to the entire procedure of intervening in Electricaribe, one of the most important energy suppliers in the Caribbean Region, which went into liquidation; the mandate includes the representation of the Colombian state in potential litigations related to the administration and liquidation process. Other mandates include advising Empresa de Energía de Bogotá (EEB) on developing an analysis of all the projects under execution in the energy sector - specifically those involving energy transmission. The team also acts as a strategic business adviser to EEDAS, CEDELCA and DISPAC.
Godoy & Hoyos Abogados SAS provides advice to local and international companies with operations in the mining, oil and gas industries. The practice group led by Juan Pablo Godoy has developed particular expertise in regulatory, contractual, environmental and tax matters related to these industries. The team also acts in dispute matters and handled the defence of a company from the oil-and-gas sector sued for the unilateral termination of a contract. Other facets of the practice include advising on contracts with the National Hydrocarbons Agency for the exploration and production of hydrocarbons and on technical evaluations, as well as on (energy related-) offshore free trade zones.
Palacios Lleras advises energy and extractive companies on environmental matters, particularly on local community consultations, environmental licensing and mining titles. The six-strong practice is led by Hugo Palacios Mejía, Oscar Gutiérrez and Carolina Deik, and is noted for undertaking litigation cases ‘with deep legal arguments, making the case strong from the base’; it handles class actions, constitutional and administrative claims, tax litigation and arbitration. The team is currently advising an international mining company on contractual disputes with the National Mining Agency. Another highlight saw the firm assisting Voltalia with prior consultation proceedings regarding a solar energy project in the department of Guajira.
Pinilla González & Prieto Abogados
Pinilla González & Prieto Abogados strengthened its capabilities in the mining and water resources sectors with the incorporation of environmental specialist associate Natalia Nuñez as co-head of the area in conjunction with José Manuel González. The practice provides permanent legal advice to Ladrillera Santafé in relation to the company’s mining activity. Other highlights included providing legal advice and representation to Tao Tao before the local authorities to create a public services company that would supply water to more than 36,000 people. Clients include Amarilo, Prodeso, Proyectos & Diseños San Miguel and Agrobetania.