A partner for navigating the Angolan oil and gas sector TEY_post_Correia-Vicente-PONGOLOLA

Our focus extends beyond basic legalities to encompass the intricacies of oil and energy.


A partner for navigating the Angolan oil and gas sector

April 1, 2024

Correia Vicente Pongolola, partner at CVP Advogados, talks to The Energy Year about the company’s role in the Angolan energy sector and how investor interest among new investors seeking to enter Angola has evolved. CVP Advogados is a law firm with lawyers specialised in many fields.

Could you provide an overview of CVP Advogados’ role in the Angolan energy sector?
About four years ago, we recognised the complexities of the oil and energy sector. From there, we delved into this domain.
Our focus extended beyond basic legalities to encompass the intricacies of oil and energy, involving tasks such as updating legal statuses and navigating arbitration agreements. In the oil sector, joint venture agreements play a pivotal role. Dealing with disputes requires precise legal guidance, especially in an arena marked by high capital intensity and a preference for arbitration processes.
Success in the oil and gas sector stems from thorough studies that allow us to adapt to each unique situation. The Petroleum Law encourages local companies to participate, but entry requires substantial financial preparedness due to the sizeable investments involved. Our role as advisers is to shed light on these challenges and to assess the capacity of potential entrants.
It’s crucial to understand the nature of returns in this field, where immediate gains are rare, given the high capital requirements and the inherently risky nature of the industry. We emphasise the importance of caution and provide a comprehensive overview for prospective investors. Navigating the sector in Angola is indeed challenging and demands a nuanced understanding of the risks associated with substantial investments.

How has the investment climate in Angola evolved over the past four years, and what is the current level of interest among new investors seeking to enter the Angolan market?
Typically, international investors seeking entry into Angola require assurance that their investments are secure and therefore often rely on guarantees provided by political authorities. The business environment poses its own set of challenges, particularly because established operators hold a significant presence. New entrants face hurdles, as they must secure credit from external sources to compete effectively for concessions and prospecting licences.
The competition landscape is complex, and for those starting afresh, the need for external funding is crucial to secure a competitive edge. Simplifying competitions at the state level is pivotal for attracting a broader range of investors.
Foreign investors must demonstrate expertise in the field and showcase sufficient capital investment capabilities. These are prerequisites for successful entry. This essentially means that established or traditional operators have a distinct advantage in competitions, as they possess the requisite knowledge and financial resources.
For newcomers, both international and local, breaking into the market can be challenging. The current dynamics of the industry seem to favour traditional players.


Could you share some examples of clients or instances of how CVP Advogados serves its mining clients?
Unlike other sectors dominated by partnerships and contracts, the diamond industry significantly revolves around relationships with human resources. The local perspective emphasises the need for substantial benefits for the workforce, which may conflict with investors seeking returns on their investments. In mining projects, conflicts tend to be connected with human resources, necessitating a profound understanding of local staff behaviour in resolving conflicts.
To address challenges in the diamond industry, we design highly specific contracts tailored to individual tasks. This approach is crucial, as relying solely on time-based contracts could lead to future problems, particularly when workers develop a sense of ownership towards the company.
Our intervention aims to mitigate such issues, with a primary goal of preventing conflicts from escalating to the court. This strategy is integral considering that companies do not want to negatively affect their reputation.
While diamonds pose challenges, they are relatively more manageable than the complexities associated with the oil sector. Diamond studies are more precise, with the presence of gravel indicating the presence of diamonds. By contrast, the intricacies of petroleum exploration and extraction present a more complex scenario.

In what areas do you anticipate the most growth in the upcoming year and in the years to come?
The area in which we primarily foresee the most substantial growth in the upcoming year and beyond is the oil and gas sector. We firmly believe that growth in this sector aligns with our strategic objectives. We have engaged with key individuals to strengthen our presence in this sector.
It’s worth noting that the oil and gas industry is exclusive, with well-established offices dominating the landscape. New entrants, like us, face the challenge of demonstrating greater capabilities compared to those with established tenure.
Recognising the competitive nature of this elite sector, where some offices exclusively handle oil-related matters, we have designated a specialised professional within our office for the sector. Our approach involves meticulous study and the analysis of processes, as we aim to establish both national and international references.
In the realm of oil and gas, companies typically engage with a limited number of legal firms. However, we are expanding our network and making gradual strides. Our connections with other offices in this domain are evolving, with ongoing efforts to foster growth.
Despite the competitive landscape, our office has already handled several cases in the oil sector, including notable ones with Sonangol and a group of contractors. As we navigate the complexities of this sector, our commitment is to expand our footprint and contribute meaningfully to the evolving landscape of the oil and gas industry.

Where would you like to see the office in five years?
In the upcoming five years, our primary objective is to fortify partnerships, particularly in South Africa. However, navigating the legal landscape there presents a challenge, as the specific and protective legislation for lawyers in South Africa restricts reciprocal practice arrangements.
This contrasts with partnerships such as the one between Portugal and Brazil, where legal practitioners from one country can practise in the other through a collaborative agreement. Addressing this hurdle requires fostering more open and flexible policies within our bar association.
Although concerns exist, stemming from the relatively recent establishment of our bar association in September 1996 compared to the longer-standing legal traditions in Portugal and Brazil, we believe that the potential benefits outweigh these concerns.

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