EDUARDO LÓPEZ

Ecuador 2020 | HYDROCARBONS | INTERVIEW

As one of the few private oil service companies in Latin America with its own R&D department, Sertecpet is carrying the private sector torch to maximize output.

Eduardo López
BIOGRAPHY

Eduardo López assumed his current position in 2010. Previously, he was appointed constitutional representative of the president of Ecuador to the board of directors of Petroecuador in 2003. In 2004, he became the Minister of Energy and Mining. López Robayo has a degree in commercial engineering from the Universidad Javeriana, Ecuador. He also studied geology, mining, petroleum, and environment while pursuing a degree in petroleum negotiation management in the engineering department of the Central University of Ecuador.

What opportunities are there for local private companies, given the bid rounds?

The Ecuadorian government has realized it needs a key player in its attempt to boost the hydrocarbon industry, namely the private sector. The previous administration decided that developing the industry was the government's responsibility and prerogative. However, this was proven ineffective due to the plunge of oil prices. Consequently, all the social government-sponsored projects were severely affected. As such, the bidding rounds have specifically targeted private foreign investors, as the country needs foreign investment to balance certain macroeconomic indicators. In this scenario, local companies have a key role to play due to obvious factors, such as the fact that they are familiar with the market, the environment, and existing conditions. In the upcoming bidding rounds, we expect to witness a more direct and effective role of national companies. Much of Ecuador has yet to be explored, and the quality of our crude is outstanding. The fact that we do not have any insurgent groups in the areas where all the fields are located makes the domestic hydrocarbon sector all the more attractive for investment. Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that Ecuador's currency is the US dollar, which provides a significant advantage for oil and mining companies, for there is no risk of currency devaluation while long-term forecasts are conducted.

What role have you played in bringing international standards to Ecuador's oil sector?

Sertecpet is a pioneer in the implementation of an integrated health, security, and quality-control system in Ecuador, which has served as a reference for operators in the market. As an integrated organization, Sertecpet ensures that the top executives move in that direction. We started to implement certified processes 18 years ago when we realized that if our company was to compete internationally, we had to abide by the highest standards. Today we comply with standards set by the American Petroleum Institute, and I am proud to say we were the first Latin American company to obtain the Q2 certificate. Additionally, and with the view of internationalizing our company, we understood that R&D were key to our core business. Hence, we invested in our own R&D as a means of creating value. It is worth mentioning that Sertecpet is one of the few private oil service companies in Latin America that has an R&D department.

Given Sertecpet's activity in R&D, how has the company been innovating with regards to oil and gas 4.0?

A company needs to plan for a minimum 20 years period. We plan to become global leaders in the implementation of innovative technologies in the oil and gas industry by 2040. To that effect, we have established alliances in this regard, such as with MIT's Energy Initiative and Edinburgh University, as well as other agreements with many local universities to train their students. We also seek to digitalize all our processes because technology is the only way to ensure a company is sustainable in the future. Just to name a few examples of how technology plays a key role in our core business, Sertecpet has entered into a contract with Pemex to reactivate 18 mature fields. From zero oil production, we were able to produce 10,500bpd applying our own software and technology. In Angola, we were able to increase Sonangol's production from 180bpd to 550bpd just by applying our own processes.

What are your short-term priorities for Ecuador?

We will partake in the country's push toward renewable energies. We have an office in Spain working to attract partners and joint ventures in wind and PV projects that will take place in Ecuador in the near future, not to mention the international market where we also have a presence. In this regard, we are committed to working with the relevant stakeholders to assist the government in the generation of public policies aligned with the country's long-term views and needs.\