A decade of growth in Ecuador
It was ten years ago when Tecpetrol first began providing a full range of integrated services at the Libertador and Shushufindi blocks. Today, we have the opportunity to hear from eight leaders in the area who were involved from way back then as they share anecdotes and learnings.
One day in February ten years ago, after many months of to-and-froing and arduous negotiations, Tecpetrol finally signed a service contract with what was then called Petroecuador, the Ecuadorian national oil company, to operate projects at two of the country’s largest oil fields, deep in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. The first was at the Libertador Field—where Tecpetrol is heading up the Pardaliservices international consortium—and the second was at Shushufindi, where the company has a stake in another international consortium, led by Schlumberger.
The ten-year milestone is a testament to the growth and development achieved by Tecpetrol, and all the work it has invested in building on the original operations in Campo Bermejo to become a key player in the Ecuadorian oil market.
Following a decade of many challenges, Tecpetrol has managed to establish itself in Ecuador as a respected integrated services company, with considerable experience in mature field rejuvenation, thanks to its professional management and execution capabilities.
This is particularly the case at the Libertador Field, where the company has invested USD 684 million dollars over the last ten years, drilling 33 new wells, managing 45 workovers and 16 secondary injection wells. From February 2012 to December 2021, the company has produced 19.6 million barrels of oil from its wells.
At Shushufindi, the ten-year USD 2.5 billion investment plan has resulted in 120 new wells being drilled and 165 workovers. Currently, both operations represent more than 10% of Ecuador’s national crude oil production (over 59,000 barrels per day).
We asked Horacio Pizarro, the manager of Tecpetrol in Ecuador, and some of his colleagues from the early days of the take-over, to tell us about their memories of the challenges involved in this process. They welcomed the opportunity to delve into old photo albums and share some special moments immortalized on camera, images commemorating this decade of growth.
"Today, we celebrate the tenth anniversary of these two successful projects for Tecpetrol in Ecuador. I’ve been heading up work here for the last three years; I arrived in the country in 2019 to find a well-established team with several years of field management experience under its belt. They’ve drilled many wells, carried out major workovers and put in some key infrastructure works. Perhaps the toughest challenges we’ve had to deal with were when the country’s main oil pipelines ruptured, which happened twice in these three years, plus the collapse in WTI (West Texas Intermediate) prices following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in 2021, we resumed our investment plan, which is very robust and envisages continuing to add production for the country and achieving very good results." Horacio Pizarro, manager of Tecpetrol in Ecuador
"Tecpetrol has grown so much over the last ten years, making great strides in the area of operational and safety standards, to the point where we have become a benchmark for the oil industry. We are meeting our risk management goals and keeping our environments safe." Ivan Alcázar, Head of Safety for Tecpetrol in Ecuador, who was involved in the personnel and asset safety studies when the contract was tendered.
"It was extremely challenging to be able to get such atypical contracts going in Ecuador, and no less of a challenge to keep operations running, given the stream of changes in the state structure (mergers and other structural events) that meant our counterpart changed several times over. Then, the context of the pricing crisis and the pandemic which affected Ecuador added a layer of additional complexity. Today, ten years down the road, it is very gratifying to see how much progress we have made, and how much we have achieved with both projects." Fabio Gaudelli, who began in February 2012 as administration manager for Pardaliservices (Libertador) and today heads up the administration department for the Andean region.
"It was a small group, mostly people from Tecpe, and many of us came from other operators in the industry. The biggest challenge was how to build a work team with people who barely knew each other, as a contracting company for the state operator." Alberto Narváez started work on the projects in 2012 as a production engineer and is now Operations Manager.
"I toured every inch of the vast extension works for the Estación Norte as it progressed, and was able to see for myself the sheer size of this project, as I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate it sitting at my desk! Despite the heat, rain and constant mud, I found it really inspiring to see how this project was developing as part of the renegotiation projects on which I worked for so many hours. Finally, when we won the project, it reactivated all the areas of the company, giving us the opportunity to continue working and making the most of all the synergies with CPP." Diana Trujillo, Controller of Facilities and Construction at the Shushufindi Consortium.
"Beyond my own work in supply management, my biggest achievement was adapting to all the changes involved. Working in an operating company, Tecpetrol in Ecuador, is very different to working at a services provider such as Pardaliservices which has quite a different approach, structure and objectives. I had to get my head around the fact that the state oil company is today our customer". Xavier Montalvo, formerly head of Supply at Pardaliservices; today head of Supplies of Tecpetrol in Ecuador.
"The key milestone in the Community Relations area has been to implement a program allowing us to help those communities directly influenced by our operations, without actually being an operating company. Our program provides support in the form of Scholarships for Higher Education, Infrastructure/Educational Equipment, and COVID-19 Donations. We also offer Institutional Support and Community Integration programs. Block 57 Libertador has historically been a site with a very complex social context, but our ability to take a long-term view allowed us to establish extremely good relations with the community." Darwin Vega, coordinator of Community Relations.
"At Tecpetrol, each day brings fresh challenges, and each project involves a new strategy and different situations that really put you to the test. Dealing with different cultures and different ways of working: diversity in the purest meaning of the word." David Espinoza, senior buyer.
"Being involved in the process to take over the Libertador Field was challenging, first because we were transforming the contract modality to act as a service company, and then because the oil industry was going through a boom in exploitation. There were issues at the beginning—like there are with any contract—but then the relationship between the two companies, Pardaliservices and Petroecuador EP, began to take shape." Paulo Villamarín, from the former Campo Bermejo operation, began as head of reservoirs in Libertador. Today he is a reconditioning supervisor.