Araquereyna banks on Venezuelan energy liberalisation with hire

Araquereyna believes Venezuela’s double-digit recession will force its government to open the oil and gas sector to new investment, leading the firm to recruit a former CMS foreign associate to head its energy and natural resources practice.

Araquereyna banks on Venezuelan energy liberalisation with hire

Venezuelan-born energy lawyer Roberto Strauss, 32, joins the firm after a brief stint in the UK, where he worked as a foreign associate, first at CMS Cameron McKenna LLP and later at local firm Shiells LLP. Araquereyna announced his hire on 10 March. He increases the firm’s partner count to 18.Conservative figures from the International Monetary Fund suggest the Venezuelan economy contracted by 10% in 2016 amid rampant inflation, food shortages and rising crime. Maria del Pilar Aneas, Araquereyna’s managing partner, believes the country’s cash-strapped government must liberalise the oil and gas sector out of necessity. “Venezuela is going to have to open its mind in terms of developing new strategies and policies towards increasing its oil and gas production, which necessarily requires private – mostly foreign – investment,” she says.Aneas adds that even under the current administration, opportunities for private capital in the oil and gas space exist. “Such opportunities have not only been identified by us, but also by Roberto Strauss, who came back from the UK to join our firm and pursue this strategy,” she explains.Straus was working in Aberdeen, Scotland before his return to Venezuela. When he arrived in Caracas, Araquereyna was his first port of call. “At some point I met with Maria del Pilar Aneas and partners Manuel Reyna and Pedro Sosa to discuss new opportunities at the firm and when the opportunity arose, we reached an agreement for me to join as a partner,” he explains.Strauss’ cousin, who is in-house counsel for Norwegian energy company Statoil in the US, was behind his earlier move to Scotland. “He encouraged me to pursue an LLM at the University of Dundee’s Centre for Energy, Petroleum, Mineral Law and Policy,” he says.Back in Venezuela, Araquereyna stands out as the only Latin Lawyer 250 recommended firm in the country to report a lateral hire in 2016. Last year, it enlisted D’Empaire Reyna Abogados’ founding partner Gustavo Reyna following his retirement at his old firm. Aneas says the firm’s hiring strategy will ensure it has strong practices when the Venezuelan economy returns to form. “Our bet is to keep the firm solid and growing,” she says.

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