When you’re in good company, you go further

Rafael García reflects on teamwork, one of motors driving the work to build the Campo Pendare Central Processing Facility in time—and remembers how he and his people created the fusion arepas!

Rafael García began work at the Campo Pendare CPF project in November 2019, contributing his strengths to beef up the team running the construction of the seven tanks which were the backbone of the project. It was a good feeling: "You could sense that we were on to something strong and complex, and I also had the great fortune to run into former colleagues, with whom I’d already worked on other projects."


Rafael, who is a Facilities Lead Supervisor, talks to Tecpetrol Today from the Campo Pendare block. “We created a good working climate. It’s a compact group, we communicate well, it’s a mature group of people and we have good relations with other areas: I was initially quite surprised, as they acted like a family or a relaxed group of friends, so I fitted in very quickly.”

Three months later, the pandemic arrived, bringing with it all the problems and difficulties that hit projects around the world and swiftly prompting the search for solutions: “It was a major challenge as we had the contractors in full construction mode. There were some two hundred people in the field, sharing small spaces.” Tecpetrol set up small isolated cells, work crews with an HSE coordinator, a chief leader and labor personnel. Each cell was isolated from the others, they ate breakfast, lunch and dinner together and never had direct contact with any of the other groups.

Rafael García at his everyday job.

"At some point we had up to thirty cells on-site: there were groups of welders, assemblers, painters, logistics, administration, etc." Rafael highlights how they worked to build internal relationships: “There was a prevailing sense of strength of purpose, which sustained the project. But there’s no doubt that it put all the teams—communications, management, and the outstanding leadership of the HSE department of Tecpetrol Colombia—to the test.”

Although there were no widespread infections, there was the odd case, which meant people had to isolate, even in the middle of nowhere. The sheer dynamics of the project required things to keep moving, so there was no alternative. “The results ended up being better than we expected. We were all very committed to planning our daily routines, we organized schedules with specific tasks for each team. It was a major planning challenge. It was like working at an industrial plant, in shifts: we were split into areas, and as one cell finished its activity, the next one came on.

It was a well-oiled machinery that emphasized the human factor. “Everything we did was achieved by our people. Totally. There was this special sense of unity, circumstances brought us closer together and we behaved like a family, at least, that’s how I experienced it. It sounds a little exaggerated, but there was total harmony between us as we worked, we felt safe and put our trust in each other, in a high performance team.”

The project was completed in a year and a half, with no incidents or serious situations, with much learning and adapting to new customs. “We got into the habit of taking it in turns to make arepas! A Venezuelan friend started this, so we all got to prepare the dough and the filling, and it’s become this eclectic mix of flavors and colors. We mix Venezuela with the Atlantic Coast, the Colombian Llano and the Andean region of Colombia. There are all kinds of flavors: Costeño cheese, Santander cheese, avocado, onion, chorizo, you name it!”

The teams achieved a unique point of integration, sharing and developing common ways of doing things, which included even the fusion of flavors for something as simple as a local cornmeal bun: “There wasn’t a great deal of privacy, so we looked on the bright side and focused on fostering unity and fellowship. That was it,” reflects Rafael with a smile from the Pendare CPF, under the glare of the midday sun above the Colombian Llano.

Experience at Fortín de Piedra

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