Ecopetrol on the World Stage

From Latin America to Houston: Ecopetrol on the World Stage

Valve World had the opportunity to speak with Carlos Zamora and Juan Malave regarding Ecopetrol’s new projects and prospects.
Carlos Zamora has over 20 years of experience in the oil and gas industry. Juan Malave has been working in procurement for 9 years, having graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in finance with an emphasis on global energy management. Both Carlos and Juan have spent the last few years at the Ecopetrol America office in Houston, where they handle all queries in upstream, midstream and downstream for the PVF Category.

Everything valves

Zamora and Malave are in charge of handling all requests for pipes, valves and fittings (PVF), and for all upstream,
midstream and downstream sectors of the operations. From Zamora’s position, as it deals with international aspects, especially Colombia, the company has been experiencing explosive growth in recent years. Zamora foresees this growth continuing over the next 5–10 years, not only as an offshore producer, but the company plans to continue the expansion and modernization of their facilities in Colombia.

Crunching the numbers

When asked for a rough idea of how many and what types of valves might be used in any of Ecopetrol’s projects, Malave mentioned a time where he placed an order of about 300 valves for a project. This project was composed of a majority of trunnion mounted ball valves, followed by gate valves and a small amount of process valves. He mentioned the time when he placed a purchase order with 51 line items for valves for the same project, and months after, his order was yet to be completed.

The total number was somewhere between 500 to 600 valves for one of the biggest ongoing projects in Colombia, an upstream project, where the process and upstream valves were used. The valves he ordered are standard for the industry, and probably the same as what other companies are using for similar projects. Once they start getting more complex, using the on-off valves, control valves and other actuated valves, it is more on the instrumentation side, which is more technical, and they will be using valves that are more unique in the industry. They will encounter 22- to 28-week delivery estimates for the majority of these valves.

Foreign policy

About 90% of Colombia’s oil is heavy, containing an abundant amount of water. The high temperatures encountered can also be a challenge. In the United States, they will work at 120–140 degrees Fahrenheit, but in Colombia, temperatures of 190 or 250 degrees Fahrenheit are not uncommon. This needs to be taken into consideration when choosing materials. All the soft materials of the internal part of the valves are important in sustaining the high temperature and corrosion levels of highly corrosive media.

Looking into the crystal ball (valve)

Zamora admitted that there is a shortage of younger people coming into the industry. He would encourage anyone entering oil and gas to gain knowledge wherever possible, whether through training courses, seminars or other platforms available. “We encourage them to visit suppliers, plants, mills and manufacturers because there is nothing like seeing the process firsthand. We feel it is a very rewarding experience for them and a great investment not only in themselves, but also for us, the company. The result is we get a much better employee who could be much more productive and efficient. The more knowledge, the better.”

About Ecopetrol

Ecopetrol was established in 1948 as the Empresa Colombiana de Petróleos. After assuming assets from another company, Ecopetrol undertook activities in the oil chain as a State-owned Industrial and Commercial Company. In charge of administrating Colombia’s hydrocarbon resources, EcoPetrol grew as other concessions reverted and became part of its operation. In 2003, the company was restructured to make it more competitive in an international market, and it was renamed Ecopetrol S.A. Since then, the company has accelerated exploratory activities and increased capacity to improve its competitiveness in the world oil market. As a company, Ecopetrol’s goal is to have production of 1.2 million barrels per day by 2020.

To read the complete article, please contact Roy van IJzendoorn for a PDF copy

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