JORGE LANZA

Spain 2021 | GREEN ECONOMY | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Jorge Lanza, CEO of Exolum, about the history of the company, the move to green hydrogen, and International expansion plans.

Exolum was founded in 1927 under the name of Campsa. How has the company evolved since then, and what are its mission and values?

After almost 100 years, our company has evolved in much the same way as society. When Campsa was founded, the company's main objective was to manage the oil monopoly, namely the entire value chain including refineries, distribution, and gas stations. The first change came about in 1986, when Spain entered the European Common Market. Then, the market was liberalized. Campsa changed its name to CLH in 1993 and focused exclusively on the management of facilities, transportation, and storage of hydrocarbons in Spain. The main aim was to invest in technology and focus on a specialized sector. The next change came about in 2015, when the company decided to break into other markets and, a little later, widen its range of services.

In March 2021, CLH changed its name to Exolum. What was the rationale behind this change?

We wanted to demonstrate our current ambitions and what we want to be. CLH stands for Hydrocarbons Logistics Company in Spanish, and the name was no longer faithful to what we are now, because we have widened our range of services. In addition, demand for hydrocarbons will fall due to the energy transition, and we therefore wanted to project a more modern image and more committed to innovation and the great challenges ahead, such as sustainability and climate change.

What is the weight of the new business lines compared to the company's traditional activity?

Right now, the new business lines account for only 10% of the income statement; however, one of our economic growth axes is the aviation sector, which accounts for 30% of the income statement.

Avikor is a platform created by Exolum that aims to reduce aviation CO2 emissions by using sustainable fuels. How is this initiative being developed?

Aircraft currently use paraffin and may use hydrogen in the future. We are committed to using green, carbon-free fuels whose production process is more environmentally responsible. We are now working on sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs). These fuels have not changed chemically, but their production processes include recycled oils instead of petroleum. Avikor allows passengers or companies, regardless of the airline, to choose a sustainable aviation fuel for their flight when purchasing their tickets. Exolum offers this service at the Spanish airports of Madrid and Barcelona, which account for 75% of the country's aviation fuel consumption. We also manage the infrastructures of these two airports, which allows us to ensure that sustainable fuel is used for refuelling.

What processes are you carrying out with green hydrogen and the circular economy in water and waste treatment?

Although our company does not have a high direct carbon footprint, our main indirect source of CO2 emissions is the electricity we consume. We are currently working on projects in order to generate our own renewable energy and reduce our impact on the environment. In other words, we want traditional business to be more sustainable. In terms of hydrogen, it is one of the main projects in which we are working to move toward the energy transition. However, it is not the only one. We are also considering other alternatives, such as biofuels. Green hydrogen will be a useful alternative in the future and will be used to decarbonize sectors, such as heavy goods transport, ships, and heavy machinery. Today, green hydrogen is expensive to produce. We currently have projects for existing industrial uses. We work with the refining industry, which is currently the largest consumer of hydrogen in Spain. Logistically speaking, we help it move from regular hydrogen to green hydrogen. In addition, we are working to create a network of hydrogen stations in Spain. This project is being carried out in conjunction with other energy and transport companies, such as ALSA (one of the largest bus fleet companies in Spain) and European funds. Our goal is to create a network of hydrogen stations throughout the country to ensure that buses and trucks have somewhere to refuel.

The sector is also evolving in terms of digitalization processes. How is Exolum carrying out these processes? Do you have any specific projects?

In the past, CLH focused on automating and implementing the newest technology processes. For example, it was the first company to introduce satellite technology in Spain decades ago. This enabled our pipeline and storage terminal control network to be managed from Madrid. At the moment, we have many new projects that are part of our digital agenda. For example, for the past five years, we have had a project in equipment sensorization and data analysis in order to make the maintenance of our facilities more intelligent and efficient. Other initiatives include satellite image processing system to facilitate the control of oil pipelines, and intrusion in our facilities. Finally, we have other projects related to tax regulation, transaction management, and electronic delivery notes that will help with simplifying customer documentation and minimizing errors.

What are your objectives for 2021? Where is Exolum's international expansion headed?

In 2020, we acquired a northern European chemicals company with several terminals on the continent. Therefore, one of our main objectives is to fully integrate this company. In our everyday work, and even more so during the pandemic, our goal is to ensure we provide an adequate service, especially in the aviation sector. We want to be ready for when this sector is operational again. Another forward-looking objective is the energy transition. In order for this to be a success, we have to continue working on many projects, such as the hydrogen stations project. Currently, we are not focused on international expansion, though we are looking for business lines diversification where we currently work at, in areas such as hydrogen, chemicals, and circular economy. For example, in Spain, we have a project on waste treatment to transform it into fuel. At NWE we are focused on diversifying our business by focusing on both hydrogen and chemicals.