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GAR 100 - 10th Edition

Pérez Bustamante & Ponce

06 March 2017

Helped Murphy Oil prevail against Ecuador

People in Who’s Who Legal 1
Pending cases as counsel 12
Treaty cases 3

In 2004, Pérez Bustamante & Ponce participated in the first-ever claim against Ecuador at ICSID, helping Repsol YPF to win US$13 million in a contractual claim. Remarkably, two of the firm’s partners oversaw the whole case, without any assistance from international co-counsel.

Today, the firm – one of Ecuador’s oldest – attracts many foreign oil and gas companies affected by regulatory changes introduced by president Rafael Correa’s administration. It is often found pairing up with firms such as Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, King & Spalding and White & Case on investment treaty cases.

Rodrigo Jijón, a founder and former president of the Ecuadorean Arbitration Institute, leads the international arbitration practice and is also well known for his energy law expertise. Other names to know are Juan Manuel Marchán, who was promoted to partner in 2013 and is increasingly active on investment treaty matters, and Jaime Zaldumbide, who specialises in environmental law matters.

Who uses it?

Energy clients loom large on the list. Perenco, ConocoPhillips, Murphy Oil, Noble Energy and Teikoku Oil have all turned to the firm for investment claims against Ecuador. Another client is Brazilian state oil and gas company Petrobras.

Chevron has also reportedly used the firm for local law advice in connection with its long-running dispute over environmental pollution in the Amazon rainforest – including in a denial of justice claim against Ecuador now playing out before an arbitral tribunal in The Hague.

It has defended Occidental Petroleum and BP in local environmental litigation (the BP case was in connection with the Deepwater Horizon spill). Other clients of note include Daimler Chrysler, Brazilian construction group Odebrecht, Spain’s Telefónica, Nestlé and Hong Kong’s CK Hutchison Holdings.

Track record

Alongside King & Spalding, the firm helped the US’s Murphy Oil win more than US$30 million in 2016 in an UNCITRAL claim against Ecuador over the state’s 99% levy on windfall oil profits. 

Pairing up with White & Case, the firm helped subsidiaries of Hong Kong conglomerate CK Hutchison Holdings knock out the bulk of a US$200 million claim brought by an Ecuadorean port authority in 2015.

Another collaboration with White & Case saw the two firms help airport consortium Quiport settle a dispute with Ecuador in 2011 over the construction of an international airport in Quito; the claimants dropped their ICSID case after agreeing on new contractual terms.

Going further back, it helped Noble Energy settle an ICSID claim against Ecuador in 2009, convincing the state to pay US$70 million to resolve the dispute.

Recent events

The firm continues to act alongside Freshfields on behalf of Petrobras and its consortium partners in an UNCITRAL claim against Ecuador concerning the nationalisation of two oil projects. Hearings took place in The Hague in early 2017.

Pérez Bustamante is also working alongside Jones Day in a US$50 million dispute over a terminated contract to build a liquefied petroleum gas site off the coast of Ecuador.

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