ProPymes 21-22: more tools to expand the country's energy potential

Tecpetrol’s Annual SME Supplier Meeting, this year held online, was the kick-off for the company’s new training and consultancy agenda, targeting 190 companies. Tecpetrol CEO Ricardo Markous was joined by Argentine Secretary of Energy, Darío Martínez, as they shared their vision for industrial development in Argentina.

The launch of Tecpetrol's ProPymes 21-22 program, envisaging a full schedule of activities, was an excellent opportunity to bring together the range of supplier companies working to strengthen the value chain in the oil & gas industry. It was also a chance to publicize the latest innovations in management, making activity in this sector more efficient and productive: a truly virtuous circle, as pointed out by Tecpetrol’s CEO Ricardo Markous, in his opening remarks.

Inspired by the initiative taken by the Techint Group in the post-2001 crisis period, today working with 900 companies, Tecpetrol launched its own sector-specific ProPymes program in 2006 with 50 suppliers, today numbering some 190 members. In addition to representatives from professional associations and company directors, many of these were present online at the event held on the morning of Wednesday, August 18. Coordinated by Luis Lanziani, head of Supplier Development, the meeting featured presentations by the Argentine Secretary of Energy, Darío Martínez, and Guillermo Murphy, Tecpetrol’s Supply Chain director, as well as the company’s Supply Manager Fernando Estrada, who shared more details about the program.  

The vital role played by SMEs is showcased in the story of Fortín de Piedra. With an investment of over 2 billion dollars, the field began producing oil and gas in record time, barely 18 months after works began. The key to this extraordinary achievement was the work managed and coordinated with over 1,000 companies based in fifteen provinces throughout Argentina. "This was a major source of pride for us," recalled Markous, who attributed the accomplishment of the Vaca Muerta development to the Techint Group’s unique brand of industrial culture, one embedded in its DNA and intrinsic to Tecpetrol since it was founded. Improving SME competitiveness and productivity, promoting efficient import substitution and enhancing these organizations’ export capabilities, are all on the list of the objectives pursued by this program. According to Markous, the Argentine government’s imminent law to promote investments in hydrocarbons and the construction of a new gas pipeline from Neuquén, will significantly boost production in Vaca Muerta. "The bedrock there offers all kinds of opportunities," he enthused while drawing attention to the importance of the Argentine Government’s Gas Plan. "Gas is being touted as the next energy transition fuel," he added, "so it’s vital to make the most of the reserves the country has sooner rather than later."

Energy Secretary Darío Martínez highlighted the common objectives pursued by the industry as it works alongside the state. "We have to achieve a high degree of synergy so that the producers, when enabling and enhancing their value chain, can also incorporate more local added value," he declared optimistically. 

Drilling new wells

The oil industry’s main activity happens out in the field. "For this reason, we need to create the context for something that is as close as possible to a good factory, so that we can implant this special gene handed down from the Techint Group," explained Guillermo Murphy.

The "transformative" Supply Chain model is all about operating in an increasingly complex energy environment with innovative, business-oriented solutions. According to Murphy, the new model’s functions envisage new supplier management systems, such as an innovative computer-based management solution able to handle data from over 2,000 companies.

Training and consulting

“A hotbed of growth and innovation.” This is how Fernando Estrada qualified the supplier management system and procedures which are the pillars of the ProPymes program. "It’s so much more than just putting together a list of agents who are authorized to bid for certain contracts," he explained. "Thanks to a systematic and proactive approach, we can evaluate and monitor the SMEs in this program to ensure continuous improvement in quality and capabilities," he said in reference to the feedback scheme that detects deviations to input as information for the development of training and consulting plans.

The impact of the pandemic, which led to many activities migrating online, also led to a shift in the program’s focus. "The most important change occurred in training," revealed Luis Lanziani, who announced the start of this new cycle. The initiative is joined by institutions whose role is to certify the program participants, and complemented by the start of workshops covering administrative processes. He also highlighted the specific features of the consulting programs for companies in growth mode.

The event attendees expressed their interest in a brief Q&A round covering bidding processes, future developments in Vaca Muerta, and the success stories about import substitution and exports. The outlook is certainly encouraging: last year, according to the CEO, gas production levels fell from 17.5 million to 11 million in Fortín de Piedra, but these have since recovered to reach 18 million. "After the impact of the pandemic-related events in 2020, we are convinced that we are going to get investments on a continuous basis," assured Ricardo Markous in his closing remarks. "As SMEs improve their standards, so too are producers, making everything more efficient, and creating that virtuous circle." 

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