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Marco Calvopiña

ECUADOR - Energy & Mining

Refining on the Pacific

General Manager, EP Petroecuador


Marco Calvopiña studied as a Chemical Engineer, and obtained his MBA with a specialization in banking and finance from Alajuela, Costa Rica. He began working for CEPE Petroecuador in 1981, developing different functions and working in various positions. He is currently the General Manager of EP Petroecuador and also teaches at the Chemical Engineering School of the Universidad Central del Ecuador.

"We accomplished the plan proposed at the beginning of the 2011, to drill new wells with a large number of towers."

What factors led Petroecuador’s growth to exceed expectations?

We accomplished the plan proposed at the beginning of the 2011, to drill new wells with a large number of towers. Our strategy was successful, and the wells we’ve added have been very productive. We also launched a successful and productive new oil field, the Drago. The Drago is currently producing 10,000 barrels a day, and we hope to double this figure in the coming years. We were successful in completing our program and in the discovery of reserves. This has allowed us to achieve our targeted level of production and exceed the prediction of 6% growth. We planned to produce 52 million barrels per year, but we obtained 55.3 million. Thanks to our subsidiary Rí­o Napo, we were able to produce an additional 50,000 barrels per day. In 2011 we produced approximately 200,000 barrels per day. We maintain an investment fund, and in 2011 we were able to add $500 million more to our investment capabilities in the areas of exploration and production (E&P). Regarding gas, we assumed the platform that belonged to US-based EDC in 2011. We have also incorporated reserves of 18 million barrels of oil in 2011. On the E&P side, we are finishing negotiations to hire well-known companies such as Schlumberger, Halliburton, and Baker Hughes so as to integrate new technology, optimize the production of oil, and develop enhanced oil recovery techniques for reserves that will allow us to increase the retrievable resources through methods of secondary and tertiary extraction. We have been carrying out this project since 2011. Petroecuador is more than an oil company, because it is present in every link of the value chain. In the refineries, we have achieved 100% of our goals. The most important refinery in Ecuador is called Esmeraldas, and it is under renovation. This refinery is substantially damaged, and under risk of collapse. At the moment, the refinery is operating at 90% of capacity, and the process of renovation will continue until 2013. Regarding our industrial activities, we have installed a new plant to liquefy natural gas on the Ecuadorean shore, so we can incorporate a new product—liquid natural gas (LNG)—mainly used by companies in industrial applications. In terms of projects, we are aiming to revamp damaged infrastructure and we are constructing new poly-pipelines, terminals, and infrastructure for transport and storage. We are involved in a large project in collaboration with Flopec to build a warehouse for LNG storage on Ecuador’s territory, and a gas pipeline through Guayaquil, where consumption is larger. This project will cost $300 million and is scheduled to be completed over 2012. We have also enjoyed good fortune in our sales. The international price of oil has exceeded the prices we expected. We estimate to sell crude oil at $73 per barrel, and we did it for an average of $95.

What factors will characterize the merger between Petroecuador and Petroamazonas?

In partnership with Deloitte, we began submitting information and determining the existing options for restructuring the company in March 2011. Petroamazonas is an oil company that manages a number of fields in the Amazon region; the idea is to unify our efforts, form a synergy, and be more efficient than we are separately. Petroamazonas will manage the transport of oil and gas through pipelines, the international commercialization of oil, and the refining and commercialization of derivatives. EP Petroamazonas will take care of all upstream activities. This means we are completely changing our structure as we incorporate new technology, systems, procedures, business culture, and human resources management. The merger will help to avoid mistakes and unnecessary redundancies. In that sense, we are trying to incorporate new IT systems to connect all of our segments. Petroecuador already has excellent technology regarding the engineering of pipelines, but our departments are operating in an isolated way. We are working toward an integrated system. Furthermore, we aim to improve our training to achieve better results from our employee base.

“We accomplished the plan proposed at the beginning of the 2011, to drill new wells with a large number of towers.”

Petroecuador plans to invest over $2 billion to modernize its refineries. How much capacity will be added?

The renovation of the Esmeraldas Refinery will cost $750 million, and we have been working on the project since 2008. Apart from refinery renovation, we began a program to improve the quality of our fuels at the end of 2011. The program consists of developing the production of diesel and gasoline. In diesel, we have reduced the content of sulfur to 500 parts per million, but we aim to reduce it to 250 parts per million by mid-2012. Regarding gasoline, we will increase the octane level to 87 as an initial step. Simultaneously, we are carrying out industrial projects to build new plants for the improvement of fuel quality. These projects are at the Refinery of the Amazon, and the cost will amount to $800 million. In total, we will invest $1.4 billion to improve the quality of our fuels. Moreover, we have a project to build a new Refinery on the Pacific, with a budget of around $1.2 billion. Our goals are two fold: export crude oil and begin exporting high-quality crude oil derivatives while filling the gaps in the country’s demand. Currently, we are importers of large volumes of diesel, naphtha, and LNG. Finally, we want to improve the quality of fuels to achieve the highest standards in the world. Our goal is to have fuels that meet Euro-5 standards.

How has work evolved on the Pacific refinery project?

We are in the final phase of basic engineering. Leading up to this stage, we conducted display studies, conceptual engineering, and environmental studies, purchased land, and developed the necessary infrastructure such as an access road and worksite. Once we finish the basic engineering, we hope to obtain the environmental permits. The investments will total $456 million, covered by two partners: Petroecuador and Petróleos de Venezuela, (PDVSA). Then we will begin looking for financing. We are looking for one or two partners interested in participating in this project, and we have already approached some potential investors, constructors, and licensors that are interested. The licensors have already been defined, and are among the best in the world: Honeywell UOP from US, Praxens from France, Holster from the US, and the Linde Group from Germany.

© The Business Year – April 2012



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