Firms To Watch: Energy and natural resources

Estudio Jurídico Morales & Asociados acts for multinational clients with a presence in Ecuador in a range of litigation, arbitration and project development; practice head Pablo Morales Andrade  is the key contact.
The team at Spingarn handles a range of negotiation, structuring and financing for projects, acting for clients in the energy and mining industries seeking to invest in the region; practice head Sebastián Saa is the name to note.

Energy and natural resources in Ecuador

Flor Bustamante Pizarro Hurtado Abogados

The December 2021 integration of the former Flor Hurtado (FH) firm with the Roque Bustamante-led spin off – briefly known as PabraLaw – from the former Bustamante & Bustamante, resulted in the creation of Flor Bustamante Pizarro Hurtado Abogados. Simply stated, the new entity is an energy powerhouse, combining the strengths of FH in transactional matters, cross-border financings, contract negotiations, and precontractual and structuring advice tailored towards early-stage projects, with the specialist energy and natural resources know-how of Bustamante’s team. The new bench includes: Mario Alejandro Flor, who focuses on banking and finance matters; veteran energy specialist Roque Bernardo Bustamante, who has over 25 years’ experience in the area; and Andrés Ycaza Palacios and Agustin Hurtado, specialists in mining and hydrocarbons, respectively. A strong second tier of experienced associates includes: Ximena Cabezas, who is highly regarded for mining regulatory matters; Alejandro Pérez Arellano, who is a key contact for transactional work; Maria Fernanda Mencías, whose practice includes hydrocarbons and environmental matters; and Sebastian Corral who focuses on oil, gas and energy. Former senior associate Carlos Torres Salinas  moved in house at Dundee Precious Metals in April 2022.

Practice head(s):

Mario Alejandro Flor; Roque Bernardo Bustamante; Andrés Ycaza Palacios; Agustín Hurtado Larrea; Jorge Pizarro


‘It has a lot of knowledge and experience in the energy sector, it knows it in depth, how it works, its difficulties and challenges and how to face and solve them.’

‘They have experience regarding private infrastructure financing by multilaterals, which makes an extraordinary complement to the aforementioned.’

‘Agustín Hurtado and Mario Alejandro Flor have proven to be extraordinary professionals, always attentive and absolutely committed to their clients’ projects.’

‘Always available to the requirements of its customers. Additionally, I believe that beyond their exceptional professionalism, they are great people in every way.’

‘FBPH has enjoyed robust growth and consolidation. It is, overall, a very robust one-stop shop.’

They are undoubtedly a leading firm in mining with extensive knowledge and an extremely resourceful team.’

‘They are an excellent team.’

Key clients


Anglo American

South 32





Energy Renewable

Sweetwater Royalties


CPCS Transcom Limited



Canadian Solar

Dundee Precious Metals

Atico Mining

Sunstone Metals

Tempus Resources

Hubbard Drilling

Andes Petroleum Ecuador

Consorcio Petrosud

Unipec Asia Company Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Wheaton and carried out a due diligence of Curipamba Mining Project in order for Wheaton to enter into a financial structure with Adventus.
  • Advised Solarpack on the negotiation of the Concession Agreement, PPA and Trust Agreement with the Ministry of Energy for the development of the photovoltaic project “El Aromo”, which will have a capacity of 200MW.
  • Advised DFC in the potential financing project of Villonaco 3 wind farm, located in the Loja province, with an installed capacity of 110MW.

Pérez Bustamante & Ponce

Pérez Bustamante & Ponce remains an undoubted leader in the energy and natural resources sector, with an offering that caters towards clients in the mining, renewables, electricity and oil and gas segments. As a team that features specialists from the firm’s other practice areas, its advice extends to tax, labour, environmental, financing and corporate matters, with a further focus on contentious administrative issues relating to national authorities. With deep experience in contract negotiation for the oil and gas industry, Francisco Roldán co-leads the team alongside managing partner Sebastián Pérez, a transactional expert; Jaime Zaldumbide, who has expertise on environmental issues; natural resources and regulatory specialist Sebastián Cortez (who joined the firm from Noboa, Peña & Torres, Abogados in January 2021); and senior associate María Isabel Aillón, who is well-regarded for handling disputes in the mining sector. The team was further strengthened in June 2022 with the return of Patricio Albuja (as a senior associate), after a period in house - most recently at ENAP.

Practice head(s):

Sebastián Pérez Arteta; Jaime Zaldumbide; Francisco Roldán Cobo; Sebastián Cortez; María Isabel Aillón


‘PBP has provided advice on electrical matters to us since 2021, being a satisfactory experience due to the level of understanding and practical solutions that they have presented to us. Additionally, being a diversified study, it has been able to share experiences from other subjects in a transversal way so that the advice is comprehensive.’

‘The personalized attention of the team and the clarity of the answers/solutions make them stand out. Sebastián Cortez has been a key point of contact. Sebastián Pérez’s accompaniment before high-level authorities has been fabulous.’

‘We have had the constant support of Sebastiân Cortez. We have also felt supported by Sebastiân Perez, Francisco Roldan and Jaime Zaldumbide. Their best qualities are their positioning in the industry and on arrival with the different Stakeholders.’

‘They have an excellent team, probably the largest in Ecuador, and they have very good lawyers. They are present in the largest transactions and projects that are carried out in Ecuador, so they know well how things work in practice, which is important in a country like Ecuador, since its regulatory framework and institutional framework on energy issues and natural resources is relatively new and constantly evolving.’

‘The lawyers understand very well the needs of the client, and they know how to explain the complexities that the natural resources sector presents in Ecuador. I highlight Jaime Zaldumbide, a lawyer with a long career, with whom it is always a pleasure to work. In addition to being an excellent lawyer, has worked and knows Chile very well, so he can make comparisons that are very useful for Chilean clients, helping them understand what is at stake and make better decisions.’

‘Extensive knowledge in energy matters in Ecuador and a team very attentive to resolving our concerns.’

‘Reliability, professionalism, diversity, collaboration, punctuality, good communication with clients, keeping us up to date on developments.’

‘We have a good commercial relationship with María Isabel Aillón, she is a truly professional lawyer, she is always available, ready to listen, give information to clients on a continuous basis, very polite, understands the mining industry very well.’

Key clients

Gente Oil Ecuador


Grupo Cobra

Consorcio Gransolar

Total Eren



Grupo Gloria





Work highlights

  • Acted on behalf of Gente Oil in connection with an arbitration against the Republic of Ecuador arising from several alleged breaches of a service contract for the exploration and exploitation of crude oil in Ecuador.  
  • Acted for Gransolar Total Eren Association in achieving the awarding by the Ministry of Energy and Non-Renewable Natural Resources (MERNNR) of the Galapagos Islands Conolophus Renewable Energy Microgrid Project concession.
  • Advised BHP on the joint venture process and further acquisition of Luminex’s mining project Tarqui, including an earn-in agreement allowing BHP to step in to the mining concessionaire’s rights.

Bustamante Fabara

Following the merger between Bustamante & Bustamante and Fabara & Compañía in November 2021, Bustamante Fabara’s focus remains primarily on compliance and corporate advice in relation to the oil and gas sectors. Notable members of the team include Juan Carlos Bustamante and José Rafael Bustamante, who both have expertise in M&A and joint venture work. Ximena Cabezas is also noted for her advice on mining regulations. While former energy and natural resources practice head Roque Bernardo Bustamante  left the firm to establish his own boutique (which subsequently merged into the former Flor Hurtado firm in December 2021), the firm has since hired former Robalino practice co-head, Rafael Valdivieso, an oil and gas specialist, along with senior associates Gustavo Almeida and Bruno Pesantes, who both advise energy and natural resources companies on transactions, operations, regulatory matters and infrastructure development – effective as of September 2022. Since publication, the firm has hired Juan Carlos Domínguez as associate director of its infrastructure practice; he arrives from an in-house position as legal director at Santoscmi / Acero de los Andes – effective as of January 2023. 


With a roster of high-profile clients -including the likes of Baker Hughes, Repsol, Schlumberger and Engie- ECIJA GPA has proven strength in the oil and gas sectors. The team, which acts out of Quito, is co-led by Gonzalo González, who has nearly 40 years’ experience handling upstream and downstream matters for public and private hydrocarbons entities; and Bayardo Poveda, who has expertise in corporate and financing arrangements in the sector. Involved in a variety of complex transactions, the team recently advised Baker Hughes on its corporate restructuring, involving the transformation and merger of two foreign and two local companies in the group. Also noted as a key contact, associate Gustavo Arrobo is highly regarded for his experience with alternative dispute resolution and corporate work. Key developments in the team include the arrival of Alvaro Ordóñez from Robalino in September 2021.

Practice head(s):

Gonzalo González; Bayardo Poveda

Key clients

Baker Hughes


Energy Petrol



New Stratus Energy

Ecuador TLC


Ditemaq Consortium



YPF Ecuador



Work highlights

  • Advised Baker Hughes on a complex corporate restructuring involving four companies, two local, and two foreign branches.
  • Negotiated an an amicable solution on behalf of Cosepetro aimed, at making the execution of a contract viable instead of pursuing litigation.    
  • Advised New Stratus Energy on a decision taken by the Enerrgy ministry, successfully overturning it and thereby helping the company unlock over $200m in investments.


Robalino has established itself as one of the leaders in the energy and natural resources sector over the last few years, consistently acting for high-profile clients in the renewables, mining, and oil-and-gas sectors, and earning a strong reputation for its handling of project finance matters, M&A and the structuring of projects. The team is jointly led by Andrés Donoso, who is active in structuring for oil and mining projects; Rafael Valdivieso, whose practice centres on oil-and-gas matters; and Javier Robalino, who has a long established reputation for both his transactional and contentious work. Recent highlights saw the team act for Frontera Energy on gaining approval of its environmental licenses so as to begin exploratory drilling. However, since research concluded, Valdivieso has left the firm, taking specalist former seniors Gustavo Almeida and Bruno Pesantes with him - effective as of September 2022.

Practice head(s):

Andrés Donoso; Javier Robalino


‘They offer creative solutions and continuous availability to attend to urgent legal matters.’

‘Excellent attitude and customer service, even in urgent matters and tight response times.’

Key clients

Solaris Resources


Frontera Energy

Total Eren

World Bank Group

Orion Energy

World Fuel Services

Gran Tierra Energy



Work highlights

  • Supported Solaris Resources -through its local entity Lowell Minerals- on its exploratory mining campaign, involving over $60m of investment in 2021.
  • Advised Frontera Energy throughout the discovery of oil reserves at its first exploratory well.
  • Advised Schlumberger on investments -through its different entities Schlumberger del Ecuador, Consorcio Shushufindi and Shaya Ecuador- totalling $384m.

Tobar ZVS

Tobar ZVS is noted for its active role in projects relating to the mining sector, acting for the likes of Solgold, Aurania Resources and Lumina Gold in transactional matters as well as in the planning, initial bidding, and construction of a multitude of exploration plans. Recent highlights saw the team act for Solgold on the structuring and negotiation of a financing agreement for the “Cascabel” mining project. Leading the team is César Zumárraga, with expertise in transactional work at a regional and international level. Other notable figures include Juan Fernando Larrea, who joined the partnership in March 2021 and now leads the Environmental and Sustainability unit at the firm, and associate Carla Grefa, who focuses on corporate and regulatory issues in relation to mining projects.

Practice head(s):

César Zumárraga


‘Tobar ZVS has a very effective interdisciplinary team. They have great ability to analyze the issues to be addressed and assess whether the actions to be implemented are within their scope of capabilities and time, otherwise they seek to obtain high-quality support.’

‘The plus they have is their ability to anticipate the problems that a business process or type of contract may present. They do an excellent follow-up of pending issues and handle relationships very well.’

‘Exceptional knowledge of the energy industry in the region.’

‘Flexible and open team; it understands the client’s needs very well and is willing to invest the necessary time to understand them.’

‘César Zumárraga is a lawyer of great caliber, professional, flexible, quick response, knows the matter well.’

‘I consider that the Tobar ZVS team is a very complete team. In strategic issues, the team has the ability to orchestrate agile and forceful solutions for mining companies.’

‘The level of professionalism, the human quality, the attention to their clients in a personalized and agile way. All lawyers are fully aware of our processes and needs, they are always alert to find the best solutions in the best time.’

Key clients


Lumina Gold

Luminex Resources

Minera Mesaloma

Challenger Exploration

Aurania Resources

Bachtech Environmental Corporation

Entoria Energy

Barka Capital

Condomining Corporation

Kaaru Foods

Work highlights

  • Acted for Solgold in the negotiation and signing of a landmark Investment Protection Contract for mining exploration with the Ecuadorian state.
  • Advised Lumina Gold Corp in the negotiation and signing of a landmark Investment Protection Contract for mining exploration with the Ecuadorian state.
  • Advised Bactech on several land acquisitions and on negotiations with authorities concerning their new biotechnology plant.

Dentons Paz Horowitz

The former Paz Horowitz’ tie up with transnational giant Dentons in July 2021 resulted in the formation of Dentons Paz Horowitz, which now faces the Ecuadorian market as the local face of a global platform and with a consequently expanded capacity for cross-border matters. In the energy and natural resources segment the office fields a team led by Jorge Paz Durini and Juan Carlos Pérez; it is particularly active in the mining sector, with regulatory, corporate and transactional advice representing key areas of work for the practice. Associate practice directors Gabriel Santelices and María del Mar Heredia are also key figures in the group, providing support with respect to environmental compliance and corporate issues.

Work highlights

    Pino Elizalde Abogados

    The energy and natural resources team at Guayaquil-based Pino Elizalde Abogados advises a variety of foreign entities and local companies, including oil traders and mineral processing companies, on regulatory issues relating to the expansion and financing of their local operations. The team is jointly led by dual-qualified (Ecuador/New York)name partner Daniel Pino (who focuses on transactional and financing matters in the sector); senior associate Jorge Cedeño (trading and exportation of natural resources, including trade finance; and dispute resolution) and associate Fernanda Guzmán (contractual and regulatory mattes) and is active in a range of financing and -genreally- downstream matters relating to the oil and mining industries. Recent mandates include acting for minerals and ore trading company Traxys Europe on it's financings of local suppliers and processors, and its resource acquisitions. Associate Paulette Ocampo left in April 2022 to join the Presidencia de la República del Ecuador as a regulatory specialist.

    Practice head(s):

    Daniel Pino; Jorge Cedeño; Fernanda Guzmán; Paulette Ocampo

    Key clients

    Amazonas Tanker Company

    Core Synergy



    Bluequest Resources

    Holcim Agregados

    Traxys Europe

    Hartree Metals

    Work highlights

    • Advised Core Synergy in relation to the purchase of both Ecuadorian oil and Colombian oil transported in through Ecuadorian pipelines.
    • Advised Amazonas Tanker on regulatory matters, including tax, maritime and shipping regulations, hydrocarbons laws, and crude oil export regulations.
    • Advised Ecoluxen on various legal operational requirements, including contractual, regulatory, and financing matters, and expansion plans, among other issues.

    Sempértegui Abogados

    Deeply involved in the mining sector in particular, Sempértegui Abogados specializes in regulatory and transactional advice in the extractive sectors, advising both oil and mining companies on a range of contractual arrangements for local operations and compliance matters. With past experience acting as Deputy Secretary for Industrial Mining and Deputy Minister of Mining, young partner Henry Troya leads the team and brings special insight into governmental relations in the sector. Fellow partner Julián Pástor S is an administrative and energy law specialist who focuses on energy project advisory, structuring and development. Notable changes to the team include the arrival of senior associate Priscila Armijos from Lexim Abogados in September 2021.

    Practice head(s):

    Henry Troya


    ‘During the pandemic, the quality of service was not lost. They always made an effort to stay in touch and attentive to any need. At Sempértegui Abogados this follow-up is not delegated to junior lawyers, rather it has been the partners who have strengthened the direct relationship.’

    ‘Its best qualities are closeness, professionalism and being up to date with regulatory changes.’

    ‘The team is an expert in the field of Energy and Natural Resources. Another strong point is its proactivity when faced with complex problems. Excellent work synergies have been achieved with Sempértegui, its professionals seek and find effective and innovative solutions.’

    ‘Scientific technical knowledge of the subject.’

    ‘One aspect to highlight is the good government relationship maintained by the partners, and this facilitates coordination and good results on complex issues.’

    ‘The extensive experience in matters related to mining and hydrocarbons, makes them a reliable firm when looking for legal criteria.’

    ‘They know how to collaborate with other international firms to achieve the objectives. They have not abandoned us during the processes, regardless of the pandemic. They have used technological tools so that the advice is continuous.’

    Key clients


    Grupo FYI

    Work highlights

    • Advised Ecuaservoil on the renegotiation of a contract.
    • Assisting Weatherford South America with contesting a sanction brought by the Comptroller General of the State.
    • Advised Grupo FYI on structuring and the acquisition of Natural Water Development Business.

    Noboa, Peña & Torres, Abogados

    Noboa, Peña & Torres, Abogados has endured a difficult year with the departure of environmental partner Rafael Pástor (to establish Guayaquil-based boutique, Pástor Estudio Jurídico Ambiental) in March 2022, followed by the loss of associate María Elena Sanmartín   who moved in house at Grupo Cobra the following month. These losses notwithstanding, the practice remains afoot due to the drive of associate director Francisco Larrea, who has expertise in corporate structuring, project financing and particularly, both transactions and dispute resolution in the energy and oil-and-gas sectors. The firm’s broad service offering also allows it to support its oil, gas and mining industry clients on a range of tax, labour, corporate and regulatory matters. Since publication, Larrea has been promoted to the partnership - effective as of March 2023.

    Practice head(s):

    Francisco Larrea


    ‘They know the O&G sector in Ecuador.’

    ‘They have experience in the commercial part for the acquisition of O&G goods and services.’

    ‘Availability to meet the requirements of the sector.’

    Key clients

    Cobra Instalaciones y Servicios



    Cobra Oil & Gas

    Santa Elena Petroleum Santalenapetro





    Work highlights

    • Advised Cuyabenopetro and Cobra Oil & Gas in ongoing operations, as well as the negotiation and execution of a contract term extension for 5 additional years, and $60m investment.
    • Advised Grupo Cobra in the bidding processes for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of non-renewable energy generation project “Villonaco II y III”.
    • Advised Santa Elena Petroleum in ongoing operations during Covid-19 pandemic, which includes drilling and completing wells in oil fields.