Brazilian firm Campos Mello Advogados has expanded its oil and gas team with the addition of partners David Meiler and Silvia Shimamoto, who have both been active in Brazil’s energy sector for approximately 12 years. The partners move over from Felsberg e Associados. Both have expertise in advising domestic and international companies involved in the exploration and production of oil and gas, particularly regarding their relations with Petrobras, Brazil’s semi-public energy conglomerate.

Meiler and Shimamoto are critical of what they see as a lack of clarity around tax and import rules that limit what oil and gas extraction equipment companies can bring into Brazil to support their operations. They view the uncertainty as hampering the day-to-day operations of domestic and foreign companies in Brazil, and they expect import rules and special tax and customs regimes to be topics of discussion and controversy in coming months.

Besides the need for clarification, the partners said they would like to see changes to the legal framework for production sharing agreements (PSAs). The current model is based on PSAs governing oil and natural gas drilling operations in Brazil’s coastal pre-salt areas. Under this model, whether the actual occasion is pre-salt drilling or a different project, bidding will take place, and then Petrobras will automatically become the operator of the project, with a minimum stake of 30%, the partners noted. The upshot is a situation where oil companies must make massive investments and shoulder the associated risks, but do not get to lead the operations. This arrangement makes little sense for the companies economically, the partners observed.

The hiring of Meiler and Shimamoto expands the firm’s ability to represent foreign companies operating in Brazil. Campos Mello’s recent work in this vein includes advising the First Reserve Corporation/Barra Energia joint venture in the development of the B-S4 and B-M-S8 oil projects, and representing Norwegian client SN Power in the purchase of a nearly 41% share in Desenvix, a local renewable energy company.

Besides their professional experience, the new partners have spent considerable time in academia. Meiler is a graduate of Universidade Federal do Paraná, holds an LL.M. Cum Laude from the University of Pittsburgh, and is on leave from a position as an instructor in international business transactions at the Rio de Janeiro branch of private university Ibmec. Shimamoto is a graduate of the law school at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, holds an MBA in finance from Ibmec’s business school, and has pursued postgraduate studies in tax law at Universidade Cândido Mendes.

Campos Mello also recently added a partner to its civil and labor litigation team. Rodrigo Nunes, a graduate of Universidade de São Paulo’s law school, worked as an in-house counsel for Phillip Morris at the dawn of his career and went on to do advisory work for companies in many different industries.