Can you give us an overview of SENER’s activities in Argentina since we last spoke in 2010?

The SENER engineering and construction group has been providing services to increase the capacity of refineries and build new ones in Argentina. The company believes that within five to ten years, constructing more oil refineries or increasing their capacities will be necessary for the country’s improvement, mainly in sulfure-reduction. SENER has expertise in these processes, as well as in the construction of hydro-treatment units, in addition to thermoelectric and cogeneration plants. However, the sequence and velocity of these investments will depend on the new government and on the policy of new administrations overseeing the direction of these investments.

Can you tell us about SENER’s activities in engineering and construction in Argentina?

SENER has been in Argentina since 2001 and has gained recognition in the market, not only by partners but also by clients. The company combines technology and its strong local presence and client knowledge in a way that a foreign company with technology but without knowledge of how to approach the market in Argentina might not be able to do. SENER’s professionals in Argentina have participated in the development of patented processes used in the country, even if the processes and technology were developed in their headquarters in Spain. SENER invests between 7% and 9% of its gross income in innovation, providing a different view of projects and approaches to client problems. In Argentina, SENER has developed several projects, including the combined cycles of San Martín, Belgrano I, Bicentenario, Ensenada de Barragan, and Brigadier López, as well as the owner engineering of the regasification plant in Escobar in the Buenos Aires Province, and many projects in upstream and downstream. The company has also done the complete Almirante Irizar ice breaker-refurbishment engineering after its massive fire, designed with SENER’s software FORAN for marine design and construction.

SENER has to think about Latin America as a region. Can you give us a comparative perspective on Argentina? What are the opportunities and challenges particular to the country?

Opportunities and challenges related to shale gas are unique to Argentina. SENER is now working with offers in Bolivia, Peru, Chile, and Mexico. The company has a strong activity in oil and gas in Mexico and is completing the construction of a gas liquefaction plant in Bolivia. The company expects that Colombia will be reactivated in the next few years, continuing to work on maintenance rather than increasing the number of new refineries or units. SENER also has investments in thermosolar plants, pursuing three plants in Chile, rather than Argentina, due to more favorable electrical regulations in Chile. SENER also has patents on its processes for gas and regasification plants and for the regeneration of used oils to recover base lubricants, but due to regulations in Argentina on how to dispose of used oil, the company does not have these plants in the country. Instead, the company is constructing a plant with this technology in Brazil, together with Petrobras Distribuidora.

Where do you want to take SENER in five years?

SENER will follow the market. If there are investments, the company expects to be an important supplier in engineering and construction. The investments will grow in the next three to four years, and the company would like to be a key player in them by following the clients, as they will have to erect new processing units and possibly make improvements in refineries. However, the current crude oil price is producing a strong reduction in client’s investment plans, which might involve the stop of some projects for a couple of years.

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