Theodore R. Borrego’s practice has concentrated on the oil and gas industry for over 50 years, however his connection with the industry goes back about 60 years.


A Lifetime in the Oil Patch

Ted Borrego has been practicing oil and gas law since 1974 when he began his career with Vinson & Elkins, but his family’s history in the oil industry go back to the middle 1920’s to an historic event in the industry. That event, the Mexican Expropriation of 1938, not only left an indelible mark on his father, Edward C. (Ed) Borrego, but was also a turning point in Ed Borrego’s career that also helped to shape Ted’s career.

After studying at the Colorado School of Mines, Ed began his career in 1927 with the Huasteca Oil Company, a subsidiary of the Standard Oil of New Jersey (now ExxonMobil), in Tampico, Mexico. He was an assistant field superintendent when, on March 18, 1938, the Mexican Government, through its President, Lazaro Cardenas, expropriated the assets of 17 foreign oil companies doing business in the country. Ed was one of a few oil company employees that did not make it out in the rush to evacuate after the order from the government was issued. He was held by the Mexican Government for a period of time before being allowed to make his way back to the United States. Being held at gunpoint, listening to the mobs in the streets while being locked behind bars, and then being escorted out of Mexico because of the refusal of the oil companies to address the wage grievances of the employees of Mexico and the demands of the Government, gave Ed an abiding appreciation of the responsibilities of the petroleum industry on an international scale. After returning to the United States, Ed was sent to Venezuela by the Standard Oil Company. He was still in Venezuela when he volunteered to serve as a petroleum specialist during World War II.

Jerdez El-Abid ribbon cutting ceremony.
Jerdez El-Abid ribbon cutting ceremony.

After serving in World War II and as an attaché to the United States Embassy in Rome, he remained in Italy to manage the restoration of the gas fields of northern Italy as president of the Standard Oil’s subsidiary. It was while Ed was in northern Italy that Ted Borrego “began” his oil career in 1947.

Ed worked in Peru, Colombia, and Libya, always with his family in tow. Ed was instrumental in negotiating the Peruvian concessions of the Standard Oil, and then he managed the first surrender of oil rights from the Standard Oil to Colombia, providing the spark that started the Colombian National Oil Company (Ecopetrol). Ed then went to Libya as general manager of the Libyan American Oil Company and managed the first exploration ventures in Libya. He was instrumental in the drilling of the first oil well in Libya, the Jerdez El-Abid. It was in Colombia, at age four, that Ted was allowed to accompany his father to field camps and began the first of his own personal connections to the oil patch.

After graduating from Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts in 1964, Ted worked for a geophysical company in Western Oklahoma and later graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1968. Ted then served with the United States Marine Corps, and following his father’s footsteps became a field office superintendent with Williams Brothers, a pipeline construction company in Ecuador and Brazil. After returning to the United States, Ted worked offshore in Louisiana’s Ship Shoal Block. He then entered the University of Oklahoma’s College of Law, graduating in 1974, having been appointed to the Law Review.

Libya Jerdez El-Abid.
Libya Jerdez El-Abid.

Ted’s legal career began at Vinson & Elkins in 1974 where he spent five years, concentrating principally in oil and gas law. Ted left Vinson & Elkins to practice in Wichita Falls with the firm of Sherrill & Pace.  From there he went to Johnson & Swanson in Dallas. While he was at Johnson & Swanson the firm grew from 125 lawyers in a single city to over 350 lawyers in multiple locations (and, in the process, changing its name to Johnson & Gibbs). Ted was in charge of the oil and gas practice of the firm and expanded it with the firm’s growth. He also served on the Management Committee and the Technology Committee, where, along with other lawyers, he oversaw the implementation of a large-scale network.

In 1993, Ted decided that the administrative burdens of overseeing a department and firm management were interfering with his desire to practice law. He left Johnson & Gibbs and began his own private practice. Other than a short period of time spent as in-house counsel with a major independent, Ted has essentially been a solo practitioner since then.

Most of Ted’s practice has been concentrated in the transactional aspects of oil and gas exploration and production. While he did not have to move his family to various locations around the world as his father did, he has been involved in transactions in all producing states in the United States, and in over 60 foreign countries ranging from Australia to the United Kingdom and Argentina to Canada. He advised the State of Texas in its winning presentation for the Super Collider regarding the ownership of subsurface minerals. Ted has also advised other state bureaus and agencies regarding oil, gas, and mineral ownership and exploration matters. He has advised drafting committees of the American Association of Petroleum Landmen in the revisions of the standard joint operating agreement which is in wide use throughout the United States.

Esso on the streets of Libya.
Esso on the streets of Libya.

His clients have included oil and gas companies, individual mineral and royalty owners, financial and charitable institutions, and governmental agencies. Ted does not provide a list of clients on the grounds of client confidentiality. Ted is fluent in Spanish and has a working use of Portuguese and Italian.


Ted was selected as one of the Best Lawyers in America in 1988 and has been listed in Best Lawyers in America every year since then as a practitioner in Natural Resources Law. In 2003, the first year that Texas Monthly and Law and Politics magazine published their list of Texas’ Superlawyers, Ted was selected by his peers as a Texas Superlawyer in oil and gas law. He has also been listed as one of Houston’s Best Lawyers since 2004. Ted is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell and is licensed to practice law in both Texas and Oklahoma.

Ted teaches Advanced Oil and Gas Contracts at the University of Houston’s College of Law. He authored the first version of Chapter 20, “Oil and Gas Contracts,” in Mathew Bender’s Energy Law and Transactions treatise and has published articles in various journals. Ted has spoken at several institutes, including oil and gas institutes offered by the University of Houston, South Texas College of Law, the Dallas Bar Association, and other petroleum industry groups.