A family celebration
El Tordillo, our star oil field, has just turned 30 years old. The excitement of the anniversary event was a fair measure of the affection that the company has for its oldest leadership school.
Much has been said about El Tordillo these days, more than usual. And that’s to be expected The field has turned 30 years, and with it, countless processes and lines of work that the company has developed over the years. Dozens of leaders, directors, hundreds of thousands of workers who began their careers there, looking out over the infinite horizon of the Patagonian steppes, buffeted by the incessant Chubut winds, near Comodoro Rivadavia, a community that grew and evolved at the same time.
Obviously, the ceremony was transmitted via streaming, but at times, it was perfectly possible to feel the heat of the stands, as if everyone was truly all together at a party: greetings, virtual hugs, all the joy... The more than 400 people who logged on to the event were active, upbeat and keen to be a part of things, and the chat was filled with emoji greetings, acknowledgments and reactions of surprise when someone spied a former work colleague online, someone with whom they probably shared unique experiences, now rediscovered on a screen. Because that was the main feeling of the event: how excited and buoyed up people were.
The well-known sports presenter and journalist Rifle Varela, who hosted the live broadcast, was the first to pick up on that special excitement in the air, so much so, that he conducted the entire event speaking as "we", clearly feeling a part of the celebrations.
The first of the surprises for everyone was the live broadcast from El Tordillo, despite the low temperatures typical of the Chubut basin at this time of year. Leonardo Velázquez, who was cohosting the transmission at the site, was busy touring the facilities of the undisputed star of the day. Everyone was at their posts, fully kitted out in PPE, in the midst of cakes and balloons. An opportunity to break with routine for once
Until the Coyote (Alejandro González) appeared. And the restraint exercised hitherto dissolved as emotion overflowed. Coyote talked about his working life at El Tordillo, reminiscing about his many sacrifices and battles with the wind, the weather and all kinds of setbacks. But he did more than just talk, as he too could not hold back the emotion: “It's hard not to get moved, not to think that this is my home. My family: where you get up every day keen to go in and share the day’s work with this group of colleagues who are so much more than that: my friends, such dear friends."
Soon, the great grid of participants on the Zoom screen was an outpouring of personal tributes and shared experiences. The emotion was visible in everyone’s faces even as they kept silence, anxiously listening, some wearing facemasks at their workstations, while others sat with their families around the dining room table at home. All listening to the Coyote’s words and everything he brought with him, one of those companions who embody the essence of the place thanks to their dedication, commitment and passion. With colleagues like him... How can we do anything other than demand more of ourselves?
Then it was time for the first video. The day-to-day side of things, life with those who have worked shoulder-to-shoulder during these challenging 30 years to help build everyone's dream: Juan, Eduardo, Alejandro, Óscar, Matías, Carlos, José, Marcelo, Alberto, Jorge, Alejandro, Guillermo, Raúl, Verónica, José, Gonzalo, Oscar, Santiago, Juan, Hugo, shared their words of praise and affection for the site and its career, highlighting its processes. But above all, they expressed their thanks for what they had learned, for the job opportunities and for the affections, the friends, the company of all these years. And a word that is so much more than just a word, because it’s a statement: family.
Then a video was played to honor all those own and contractor personnel who completed 25 years or more at the site: Ana María Arana, Mónica Trincheri, Ariel Vera, José Luis Villalba, Eduardo Ojeda, José Águila, Marcelo Águila, Alberto Hermosilla, Jorge Salazar, Marcelo Rojas, Alejandro Balverdi, Guillermo Morales, Raúl Sepúlveda, Oscar Villivar, Santiago Caniza, Juan Fernández and Hugo Rearte.
It was also the turn of former leaders, who’d sent in greeting videos which had the chat pinging with emoji hugs, greetings and applause. Being a director in a company like ours means a lot, not only from a professional perspective but also because of the years of contact with so many people, people who showed affection and appreciation in all the ways they could in a virtual format.
Former managers also took part. They talked about goals, efficiency, technology, projects, improvement and teamwork. But that was almost only in passing, because soon they went on to talk about mutual joys shared, about companionship and about the passion for what we do. With joyful nostalgia, Juan José Conti, Alexander Pineda, Raúl Tuvío, Marco Casolari, Ricardo Berra, Carlos Mamaní demonstrated not only with their words but with their gestures of undisguised pride how much El Tordillo had meant to them. Perhaps the words with which Juan José Conti closed the video will serve to illustrate how very much like a family our El Tordillo field has been and still is: "I want to leave a message for the current members of El Tordillo and especially for the younger generation: this is a place where it is worth putting in every ounce of effort, ability and creativity you have.
As host, Rifle Varela, warned that he was unlikely to keep to the script, as he was going to improvise, uplifted by the collective emotion. Leandro Velázquez, at the El Tordillo facilities, toured the offices and, in all of them, the scene was the same: for the first time in a long time, some would say in years, work stopped for 45 minutes. Until he arrived at the office where Daniel Sauthier, the regional director of conventional hydrocarbons exploration in Argentina and the former manager of the field, was waiting for him. Excited, he recalled anecdotes, and moments, and wound up with two words that summarize these 30 years: passion and commitment.
Ande Haile Selassie, current leader of the area, thanked everyone and underlined the key features of a school field, driving well-being and development. By this stage, everyone was ready for the final act, the peak of emotion, as, all decked out in facemasks and appropriately distanced, all the company leaders walked onto a stage and (Ricardo Markous, Andrea Rocca, Pablo Ledesma, Claudio Gugliuzza and Jorge Perczyk) listened to Horacio Marín, E&P general director, who has a very special relationship with El Tordillo, and warned in advance that he might be overcome by emotion.
And so it was: at times, the Rifle had to step in with a few words to give him some space and allow him to collect himself before pressing on. His voice cracking every now and then, Horacio recalled these 30 years, the technical and human efforts made, and paid tribute in particular to Ricardo Pérez, the former manager of El Tordillo, remembered by all for his warmth and kindness as well as for his knowledge and contribution in the area of leadership to the project. The last words wrapping up the event were spoken by the company’s CEO, Ricardo Markous: who expressed his gratitude and hopes for the future, warmly welcomed by the public.
With heartfelt thanks to everyone who filled these 30 years with history, the celebration ended and little by little, the mosaic of photos began to go dark. Everyone was left with a sense of happiness and fulfillment, enriched by the feeling that it is truly impossible to condense in one single act so much pride and so much emotion.