We interviewed Rodrigo López de Murillas, Operations Manager of Transportes Aéreos Petroleros S.A. (TAPSA) who provided a detailed overview of the current aeronautical sector for the oil industry and the commercial sector.
By Florencia Lucero Heguy
What is the market today in oil companies for air transport?
The market is always latent. It depends on the places where oil companies start their activities or expand their fields and the connectivity they may have with urban centers. In other words, air transport is linked to the needs of the company, its logistics and the time of transfer of personnel / material. Specifically, it is a direct relationship with the distance to urban centers, the existence or not of paved roads, gravel, etc., adverse weather conditions for land transport and topography and transfer time. It is a cost / benefit equation compared to land transport.
Are there currently companies with expectations to open up to this market?
Totally, in Argentina there are air transport companies that, without a doubt, can serve the eventual needs of the oil companies.
What growth was in recent years due to the expansion of Vaca Muerta?
Comparatively, with the magnitude of Vaca Muerta, it cannot be said that this venture has influenced the expansion of the air transport market. It is the case to clarify that when we talk about “Dead Cow” we often make the mistake of saying that it is a site. Vaca Muerta is not a hydrocarbon deposit, it is a very deep geological and sedimentary formation deposited in a sea of Jurassic age that runs through most of the Neuquén Basin, province of Neuquén, with a total area of about 30,000 square kilometers, which extends by the southwest of the province of Neuquén, the west of the province of Mendoza, the south of the province of Río Negro and the center of the province of La Pampa. Consequently, to date, the city that has expanded the most with the installation of suppliers of supplies and services for the oil industry is Añelo, just 100 km from Neuquén, with a paved road connection. In the near future, surely, Vaca Muerta operators will analyze the desirability of building tracks near the places of greatest interest in the exploitation, which would eventually increase the demand for this type of transport as they move away from urban centers. .
What are the needs in the sector?
Today, mainly, what affects us is the economic situation, that is, being able to count on stable macroeconomic variables over time to, in this way, be able to carry out good business planning and, thus, be competitive in the air transport market not regulate
How is Argentina in relation to others?
Unfortunately, our country suffers from a tax policy that facilitates the acquisition of aircraft by companies that, like TAPSA, to which I belong, are engaged in air transport without being regular commercial air transport airlines. In that sense, with its incentives, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru outdo us.
Is there a future for air transport?
It depends on the policies that national and provincial governments implement. For the moment, and for what has been said in the previous answer, the future is not seen as promising, beyond that those of us who love aviation do not lose hope and work in that direction.
Is there a long-term vision?
Like so many things whose regulation and control depend on the State, aviation is no exception. It is a political decision to set clear rules and keep them in time. Costs in the aviation industry are always high by their very nature. It is difficult, then, to achieve investments without long-term incentives.
What help do they have from the State?
Any. As I said before, air transportation as necessary for a large country like ours should be state policy. Not only to encourage large airlines, but for aircraft operators between 20 and 40 seats, which are the ones that, due to their small volume, would connect the oil fields, as well as the forgotten cities, with the large urban centers.
Do you think you can change the situation with a new government?
No, it does not depend on the political color of the government. As far as I remember there was no government that decidedly committed to promoting non-scheduled air transport and sustaining it over time. For example, we continue to have anachronistic laws and regulations that prevent importing refurbished parts and / or equipment under penalty of paying huge taxes. That only shows us the lack of policies or knowledge of those who must legislate or advise on this. The purchase of reconditioned parts or equipment is a common practice in the aviation industry, thereby lowering costs without incurring any extra risk.