Prevention at our operations: Twelve years on the front line

The Personnel and Asset Security Department is clocking up another anniversary. From Bogota in Colombia, Fabio Lugo reflects on his role and its importance.

Fabio Lugo, the company's Personnel and Asset Security Corporate Manager, is enthusiastic about his job and his words transmit a sense of great vitality. He’s in a position that requires hands-on presence around the clock: “The personal safety of each and every one of the people making up Tecpetrol, and the integrity of the company’s assets, are our number one priority, ahead of any project or operational result.”

“The Personnel and Asset Security Department has the mission of preventing and avoiding situations or incidents directly related to external threats of an illegal nature. If we consider the context where Tecpetrol develops some of its operations, it must have a very clear and efficient security policy so that it can comprehensively protect its human resources in first place, normal operations second, and, finally, the reputation of Tecpetrol and the Techint Group worldwide.”

Going back in time, it was twelve years ago when the company first realized it was necessary to reinforce certain security aspects in areas of dynamic growth exposed to risk, such as northern Mexico, or the political and social issues unfolding in border territories. That was when Fabio Lugo arrived on the scene. “Currently, for geographical reasons, our personnel and asset security policy is managed from Bogota: our security coordinators work closely to structure work in each of the countries on the subcontinent where Tecpetrol operates, particularly at operations exposed to risk.”

Javier Barrera, who is Chief of Security together with Gilberto Barreneche in the Pendare field in Colombia, adds, "Our strategy has achieved gratifying and solid results, providing support for the human and productive chain by managing risks related to security and physical protection."

Morning, noon and night. Keeping security at a maximum at the company’s operations is a daily task.

Argentine Andrés Torres, the coordinator at El Tordillo, explains that “We do this by gathering knowledge and permanently analyzing the environment. Then we design, implement and supervise protocols, policies and security measures to reduce the chances of any problems arising.” His compatriot, Marcos Rosetti, who works in the Neuquen Basin, expands on the subject. "Today, the area has a strategic role to play, so it has a Headquarters and Coordination team, a Security Operations Center, a field supervision team, and surveillance personnel assigned to control access points and carry out patrol duties."

Sebastián Mones Ruiz, from the Yunga Biosphere bordering Bolivia, chimes in to talk about prevention. “We are very clear that, given the particularity of our task, one of the main issues is to be ahead of the game as regards technology. We combine the latest software, sensors, cameras, and integrated alarm systems to deter, detect, stop and delay, as well as to provide a response to potential risks.”

The department grew gradually as it consolidated the company’s corporate security strategy. The team set up security departments in each country which, Lugo explains, “report to the Country Manager or the Operations Manager and then to me. It’s a very specific function, a very particular job, because it’s not something you do in an office but outside, in contact with the full range of potential risks.” Iván Alcázar, head of Security at the Libertador field in Ecuador, agrees and expands on the subject, as, "These days, security is a very mature and strong area, with a clear mission in the execution of prevention policies and with excellent results."

From Reynosa in Mexico, Hugo Flores talks about the effort involved in managing such a broad and complex department in terms of its geographical range. “We have excellent coordination and communications, and we’re always in contact with each other. We hold regular meetings and are constantly learning from the good practices of our security colleagues throughout the company.”

Lugo also talks about direct reporting, as security is a permanent issue and requires close contact between those responsible. “Disinformation makes us vulnerable. If you have someone who isn’t working with the latest information and isn’t capable of analyzing the environment properly, they’re not using the best tools required to achieve the high standards of personnel and asset security we need,” he explains.

As one may imagine, it’s all highly complex. Drawing up the most efficient processes and evaluating diverse risks in different operations are ongoing challenges. Daily contact between Fabio and his team is permanent, involving meetings, video calls, WhatsApp, telephone, and radio. The security coordinators in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and Argentina set the work agenda, presenting specific topics in writing to ensure synergy and share know-how. “All our processes are regulated, and we always implement the same measures except for exceptional cases.”

Peace of mind, continuity, and protection: “Tecpetrol’s personnel and asset security strategy has for the last twelve years been based on the analysis of information and the implementation of a robust program designed to ensure all employees and contractors are security-conscious. This isn’t just a job, it’s our mission,” ends Fabio, as he wraps up his video call to finalize operational details with Juan Andrés Morales and Juan Anaya, the security heads at the SMB field and Pesqueria in Mexico. Another day in the life of the Department, and another day on the front line.

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