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GAR 100 - 11th Edition

Pérez Bustamante & Ponce Abogados

04 April 2018

Energy clients loom large for Ecuador’s oldest firm

People in Who’s Who Legal 1
People in Future Leaders 1
Pending cases as counsel 12
Value of pending counsel work US$200 million
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.

Not long after, the firm – one of Ecuador’s oldest – began to attract many foreign oil and gas companies affected by regulatory changes introduced by the administration of Ecuador’s former president Rafael Correa. It often pairs up with firms such as Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, King & Spalding and White & Case on investment 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 partners to know are Juan Manuel Marchán, who is increasingly active on investment treaty matters, and Jaime Zaldumbide, who specialises in environmental law.

Who uses it?

Energy clients feature prominently on the list. Perenco, ConocoPhillips, Murphy Oil, Noble Energy and Japan’s Inpex have all turned to the firm for investment claims against Ecuador, as has 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 playing out before an arbitral tribunal in The Hague.

It has defended Occidental Petroleum and BP in local environmental litigation (the BP case was linked to 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.

It has also been working with Jones Day in a US$50 million dispute over a contract to build a liquefied petroleum gas site off the coast of Ecuador.

Pérez Bustamante & Ponce co-counselled in an ICDR case, winning a US$2 million award for a franchisor in the electronics sector against a franchisee in Ecuador.

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