Here at Total Lubmarine we are proud to work with a worldwide network of partners and distributors right across the marine lube oil industry. Working closely with Total Lubmarine, our partners play a key role in helping us supply our customers with our range of marine oils, greases and services in over 1,000 ports around the world.
We speak to one of those partners - FRANCISCO LOPEZ General Manager of Lubrisa, based in Guayaquil City in Ecuador.
Profile – Francisco Lopez
When General Manager of Lubrisa, Francisco Lopez, travelled thousands of miles from Guayaquil City in Ecuador to Paris just over 13 years ago, he took the opportunity to discuss ideas for Lubrisa to work with Total Lubmarine.
Whilst the Total Lubmarine name was largely unknown in Ecuador at that time, the discussion developed and has since flourished into an extremely positive working relationship between the two today, establishing Lubrisa and Total Lubmarine as a market leader in engine lubrication across the marine and power generation sectors in the country.
With over 30 years experience as a Mechanical Engineer, Francisco, tells us how the relationship with Total Lubmarine has grown, some of the challenges along the way and how Lubmarine products are now supporting one of the World’s largest Tuna Fishing Fleets.
How did the relationship between Lubrisa and Total Lubmarine develop?
I had been aware of Total Lubmarine as a leading name and a very good brand in marine lubricants for some time and could see the possible synergy and opportunities here in Ecuador between what we did at Lubrisa and Total Lubmarine.
So back in 2007/2008 I reached out - initially through email - to see if I could start an exploratory conversation. By chance some months later I was in Paris on business and decided to go to Total’s offices directly and introduce myself in person!
Whilst this may have been an unusual step within a few weeks, the discussions began and we have gone from there, building the market opportunities from a standing start to becoming recognized as one of the leading names in the market today.
Total Lubmarine is a great brand and a great partner to work with. Their approach to customer service reflects ours, product quality and performance is extremely high and we really enjoy the relationship we have with the team at Total.
What has been achieved over the course of that time?
We started off initially supplying Total products into the market here in Ecuador, but with our own blending plant and manufacturing facilities here, that developed and we started blending and manufacturing products in Ecuador on behalf of Total Lubmarine which we still do today.
When we first started, there was very little market awareness of Total Lubmarine or their products here in Ecuador. So the initial challenge was to educate the market and show, through the results of testing that companies were doing on Lubmarine products, compared to their traditional products, just how effective the products were.
Whilst this took time, the results spoke for themselves and the popularity in Total Lubmarine products started to grow. After 3 years we had taken significant market share, which continues today across our core sectors.
Before 2010, our main competitors were producing oil products directly in Ecuador but they stopped production on a local scale here and began to import the oil. That gives us a competitive advantage in that we have a manufacturing plant here in Ecuador which ensures we can serve the market here directly.
Can you Tell Us About the types of customers you are working with?
The main focus of our business is split across 4 core sectors:
- Ship operators
- Ecuadorian Fishing industry
- Land based electrical generation plants in Ecuador
- Petroleum companies
Obviously ship operators are important sector for us and one of the advantages for them in using Lubmarine products is not just in their physical performance but also in their global availability combined with the level of customer service and technical support available.
It is important to offer ship operators that breadth of service and we are certainly leading this in the market.
Fishing also remains an important industry here in Ecuador - in particular the tuna fishing fleet. Ecuador is one of the leading exporters of tuna in the world and there are currently around 180 vessels in the tuna fleet, all of which must be licensed. We began supplying lubricants to the tuna fleet in 2010 and we now supply lube oil to well over a third of the fleet.
But the biggest user of our lubricants here in Ecuador are the inland electrical power generation plants which are in place to back up Ecuador’s main hydro-electric generation plants. These plants use MAN (ES), Wärtsilä and Hyundai engines predominantly so our engines and technical support are ideally suited to support these engines.
We supply 100% of the inland power plants here in Ecuador, which is in excess of 200 power engines using Lubmarine lubricants.
In the Petroleum Industry we are supplying Lubmarine products to government agencies as wells as private companies focused in the petroleum exploration fields that are mostly using Wärtsilä electric generation units.
Have there been any unusual challenges you have had to deal with?
Certainly the global Covid pandemic has been unprecedented in its challenges but these challenges have been felt in many similar ways around the World.
A more regional challenge we had to overcome was in 2012 when the Government of Ecuador made an agreement with Venezuela in which the decision was taken to use only Proved, Developed Producing (PDP) oil as a preferred lubricant in power plants. This saw the market disappear almost overnight. However when there was political change 4 years ago, the power plants expressed concerns about the PDP oil quality and the decision was reversed and we have now fully regained the market and are now supplying to 100% of power plants in Ecuador.
What market opportunities do you see in the future?
We are excited about the future and think there are a lot of growth opportunities moving forward from a lubricants perspective and wider. Total is a special company because it is dedicated to energy - right across the board. As the world moves towards greener energy solutions there is the opportunity to introduce improved lubricant solutions in addition to wider energy solutions we can utilize here in Ecuador and that is an exciting prospect to explore.