As a team, we can reach the stars

The second in-person ProPymes meeting in Neuquén: record turnout, top-tier speakers—and a walk on Mars!

Tecpetrol has just held a second successful meeting with its value chain in the Neuquén Basin, whose members are working with Tecpetrol ProPymes, a program that this year turns twenty-one. ProPymes is about helping SMEs to enhance their competitiveness, productive investment capabilities and export capacity, as well as achieve sustainable development. Above all, it’s a network of relationships supporting the actors in the value chain, and that was amply demonstrated at the meeting.

Ricardo Markous and record-breaking numbers at Vaca Muerta.-

Luis Lanziani, Senior Manager for Supplier Development, and Fernando Estrada, Senior Director of Procurement, opened the session with words full of promise. “For us, this is a unique opportunity to meet, share, chat, dream big and look ahead to the future,” began Luis, while Fernando emphasized the strength of the Techint Group’s global program, which has worked with over 1,000 companies. He then mentioned how the initiative has evolved at Tecpetrol, starting in 2006 with some 50 companies: “Then, in 2016 we began work to develop Fortín de Piedra, and that’s when we really started to grow. Today, there are 253 companies in our network.”

"We are currently undergoing a period of consolidation, focusing on Neuquén and on those companies that, although not geographically present in the area, are nonetheless part of a metal-mechanical, metallurgical network spanning several provinces such as Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, and Córdoba, all related to our activity in Vaca Muerta,” concluded Fernando.

Addressing the assembled company, Luis added that, “I’m really proud of what ProPymes has achieved with you and all the commitment you’ve shown. This year, we reached five hundred people, and provided almost twenty thousand hours of training.”

A full room hanging on Luis and Fernando’s every word.-

ProPymes is a program that plays host to all kinds of initiatives. “We decided to bring Technical Gene into the fold with ProPymes, so that students from the schools in our catchment areas can carry out professional internships in the fifty-three companies based in the Neuquén Basin that are taking part in the Program,” he explained.

According to Guillermo Murphy, the Vice President of Supply Chain, ProPymes is a program in constant evolution: “Twenty years is nothing—this is just taking off! We’ve grown so much since Vaca Muerta!” Guillermo had come straight from Fortín de Piedra, where he’d accompanied the event’s keynote speaker, Miguel San Martín, a NASA engineer and researcher, on a tour of the facilities. Miguel’s work “was inspired by the skies of Patagonia,” as he’s from Villa Regina, and his father taught him astronomy and how to get his bearings by looking at the stars. How did Guillermo present him? Well, “when we were trying to come up with a speaker, we were talking about the challenges of Vaca Muerta, and someone said how difficult it is to get underground and find a well. And I thought, it’s probably easier than landing a ship on Mars, but for us, it’s just as complex and a success that is truly worth celebrating every time a well ends up performing.”

Miguel's talk was indeed on another planet. He chatted about his work at NASA, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where his specialty is investigating and developing landing procedures on Mars. “My father knew a great deal about the constellations, he taught us where they were in the night sky and what their names were. The poetic thing about all of this is that my job today is to chart a course for the ship using the stars!”

… and this is how you get to Mars, according to Miguel San Martín.-

The parallel with Vaca Muerta is very clear: it’s about making decisions that have repercussions many kilometers away (millions in his case). As he tells it, it sounds quite simple: “The craft reaches Mars at a speed of twenty thousand kilometers per hour and comes into contact with the highest layers of the atmosphere. In seven minutes, the ship has to be down on the surface at zero speed. So there are three braking stages.” In this complicated maneuver, of course, he is not alone, as there is a vast team of hundreds of people working together, as well as thousands of aerospace engineers, communications and data specialists, experts in entry, descent and landing, planetary scientists, navigators, controllers, instrument operators, analysts, support technicians and many more.

The thunderous applause with which Miguel’s speech was received was the cue for Tecpetrol CEO Ricardo Markous to step onto the dais for a review of the latest data from Fortín de Piedra, including production milestones, record-breaking numbers and a very bright future. “We are the second-largest producer in Argentina. Vaca Muerta is the second-largest unconventional gas formation and the fourth oil formation in the world. Its potential in fact outstrips demand in the region. Just as Miguel went to Mars, we have to go out into the world to secure new markets. Vaca Muerta can give Argentina the macroeconomic stability it needs.”

“There is going to be a lot of work for all of you. Our goals are to increase productivity, continue growing, and be as efficient as possible. NASA has its suppliers, at Tecpetrol we have ours, but we all understand the same thing: the sky’s the limit, but we have to work together to get there.”

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