What is the state of environmental consulting in Colombia?
There was no clear regulation for this matter in Colombia until 10 years ago. We had an operation in Magdalena Medio with a project that was managed by a US-based company later taken over by Ecopetrol. The previous operator did not take the necessary environmental measures, so we used our technology to do a proper clean up. The National Agency for Environmental Licenses (ANLA) and corporations currently have an inventory of over 10,000 environmental passives, but unfortunately, there is no law that forces them to it clean it up. It is an important market, but it is unregulated.
What does Colombia represent for the company, and how easy has it been to position your technology in Colombia?
Colombia represents around 60% of our operations. Our company is present in Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, and Argentina. It has not been easy to position because the technology is a bit expensive. There are local technologies that try to do the same at 30% of the cost; however, our technology is more efficient in the long term. We manage traditional processes such as cleaning, recollection, extraction, and transportation. In general, we work on contingencies, clean ups, and domestic water treatment. The focus in Panama is storage tanks in water plants. We work with Oil Spill Eater (OSE) II to lower the percentage of oils and reduce around 90% of contaminants in the water. It is used in chicken farms, for example. We worked with the aqueduct of Panama to treat sewage water. We also worked with a service station that had some damaged tanks.
How did you start offering your services to companies like Ecopetrol, Parex, Ismocol, and Vetra?
Our first strategy was to offer a pay-per-view model. We offered to do all the treatment on a certain proposed budget, and the client paid us only if we managed to do a proper clean-up. That is how we started. At present, we have ongoing contracts, and they call us when they have a contingency. We are the second respondent in these situations. The first respondents are the companies that have plants close to the disasters. We have partnerships with companies that are based all over the country. We mainly work with geoparks on this.
What is your relationship with companies such as Verde, Gpower, and OSE?
There are six representatives in Latin America for the OSE II technology. Traecol has plants in 12 cities; they are our first respondents, and they only use our technologies. Verde has a technology similar to ours, but it does not provide the same experience. Verde has other lines of business for water treatment, and it applies the product to golf courses or football fields to grow grass. Gpower is our ally in Ecuador, and we have been working with it since 2017.
Do you have the positive outlook for the sector shared by the National Agency of Hydrocarbons (ANH) and Ecopetrol?
The current administration has put forward new oil blocks. During the last round, it offered 50 blocks, but the previous administration did not offer any blocks, mainly due to low investment. Long-term investments are coming in due to these new offers because what is assigned today will be profitable in around five years. ANH should focus more on the environment, because at present it is only focused on exploration and production.
What will be the main strategies to attract new allies or clients?
We want to focus mainly on operators, showing them our results and reductions in costs. We are the only multinational company with global experience in clean up and contingencies that has a presence in Colombia. The country has a great deal of experience in these types of contingencies, but the methods used here are traditional and archaic.