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Luis Prado stepping on the gas
The Sunday Guardian sought out Shell T&T’s country chairman Luis Prado following its recent acquisition announcement in the February 27, 2013, T&T Guardian (Page A21) under the heading “Shell buys Repsol’s LNG assets.”
Shell will be commemorating its 100 years of uninterrupted presence in T&T in October of this year. Many a Shell gas station dotted the landscape throughout T&T at one time but following the global nationalisation trends, their product base was more visible through auto lubricants.
The 56-year-old father of three, Prado, a petroleum engineer and chemist, has 34 years of experience in the oil and gas industry in several countries around the world, which started in his native Venezuela back in 1979. He has received many prestigious awards for his professional achievements.
In 1990 he joined the Royal Dutch Shell Group where he held various R&D (research and development), technical, supervisory and managerial positions in The Netherlands, Scotland, UK, USA and Venezuela. He serves as country chairman of Shell Companies in Venezuela since 2008, and since 2012 as the country chairman of Shell Trinidad Ltd.
Q: What special steps have you and/or your company taken to prepare you for your new challenges related to its acquisitions in T&T?
A: I think my 23 years of cumulative leadership experience in Shell, in many ways, has prepared me for managing the new opportunities in T&T. Likewise, T&T is a country where Shell has 100 years of uninterrupted and fruitful presence. The strong ties we’ve built over the last century with the country and its people no doubt give us a solid foundation from which to build. Leading Shell in T&T at a time when we are prepared to enter the country’s LNG supply business, once the deal is closed and we have regulatory approval, for me is an exceptional opportunity.
What is the genesis of this current acquisition? When is it expected to be finalised?
We just signed an agreement to acquire part of Repsol’s portfolio outside of North America, including supply positions in Peru and T&T. The acquisition will add a new dynamic to Shell’s portfolio, namely LNG capacity in the West Atlantic from Atlantic LNG in T&T, and in the East Pacific from Peru LNG. These are early days, and we still have work to do to achieve regulatory approvals and close the deal. We’re keeping our fingers crossed, and believe this will happen around the end of the year.
What do you foresee as the major differences in managing your company’s entities here compared to those in other parts of the world?
Every country has its own characteristics and dynamics. T&T has a long and successful history in the hydrocarbon industry, supported by very talented and well trained people, and a positive business climate. As with all the countries where we are present, in T&T we operate strictly in line with our core values and business principles, which guide all of our activities.
What plans do you have for your company’s growth and development in T&T?
Our principal activity here is currently the lubricants business. Shell owns a lubricants blending plant in the Point Lisas Industrial Estate. The plant is modern and semi-automated, has a very good HSSE track record, and is operated 100 per cent by Trinbagonians. Shell Global Solutions also provides technical services to Petrotrin in both downstream and upstream operations. And as I mentioned before, we just signed an agreement to acquire Repsol’s interests in Atlantic LNG, a transaction which hopefully would be completed later this year and would redound all round to the benefit of both Shell and T&T.
Shell once had a huge presence in T&T, especially with gas stations and then came “nationalisation.” What would be different this time around?
In December of this year, Shell will be celebrating its centennial anniversary in T&T. Being able to celebrate 100 years here is a testament to our solid relationships with the people and governments of this country, all of which have made this celebration possible. And, of course, we must thank and congratulate the many generations of Shell staff who have contributed to this over the years. A very heart-warming experience for me has been to hear the many good stories that people in T&T share about their relationship or experiences with Shell (in Point Fortin, Port-of-Spain, etc); a tribute to a very respectful and productive relationship with the people of T&T. Shell respects the nation’s right to determine the path it sees fit to develop its resources. We are very pleased to be working with the people and the Government of T&T to make our operations a success, with relentless focus on safety, quality and efficiency.
How would you describe yourself to the T&T public and what else would you want us to know about Luis Prado?
I enjoy being around Trinbagonians, who are one of the warmest peoples I have ever met; always receptive, smiling and willing to help. I have a lot of respect for the people of T&T who have shown the world that they don’t shy away from big challenges, and that once a decision is made, they have the discipline to execute it to the end. The development of the natural gas resources, the four LNG trains in Point Fortin, and the Point Lisas Industrial Estate are a testament to the country’s vision and determination. I am enthusiastic to be leading Shell in a country that truly lives their national motto: “Together we aspire, together we achieve,” and I could not agree more with that! I enjoy reading, walking and am desperately trying to learn how to play golf…maybe I should try cricket too! (laughing).
Describe your management style?
I am a believer in teamwork and, before making decisions, I make sure to engage relevant members of my team. I do not have all the answers and this self-awareness makes me seek the wisdom of my teammates. I complement this with my own gut feeling, which at times may be the only thing I have to go with. I try to maintain a disciplined, respectful and always cordial atmosphere, without shying away from using humour to create the right balance.
What do you feel are the greatest accomplishments of your career thus far?
Having the honour and responsibility of leading Shell companies in T&T and Venezuela is one of my greatest achievements.
What are the main reasons for your success?
I always strive for excellence and focus on doing things correctly. It is very important for me to make my family feel proud of what I do. And I always, always…maintain a sense of humour!
What led you to join Shell?
Joining Shell represented for me an opportunity to partake in a journey: the search for and development of the energy sources that are needed for the world to develop and become a better place for all. Today, 23 years later, I’m convinced I made the right choice. I can’t think of a company that is better placed than Shell to make a difference in the energy industry. It’s a company that wants to be the most innovative and competitive player in the field, which creates a perfect match with my professional aspirations.
What are the main trends in your industry right now?
I believe the main trend in our industry is to look for and develop energy sources which are becoming more and more difficult to access, all done in a technologically smart, safe, efficient and environmentally sustainable manner. Production of natural gas which is a cleaner burning fossil fuel is an important trend and Shell is one of the top global players here. Significant investments in scientific/technological research and development are needed to produce the energy required by society, not only in the conventional oil and gas fields but also the development of innovative alternative energy sources. And in that field, Shell is one of the leading energy companies in terms of investments in R&D.
What are the biggest opportunities in your industry?
The ever-increasing demand for energy due to increasing population, urbanisation, and at the same time the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, among other factors, open a world of opportunities for our industry. More talent, that is, more technology and innovation, and crucially important more co-operation among the different stakeholders (governments, communities, civil society, academia, energy companies) will be required to satisfy the energy demands of our society.
What are the biggest risks to your industry?
I think the biggest risk is the failure to work together to produce the policy and regulatory framework necessary to promote the required investments to assure the satisfaction of our future energy needs.
At what schools/institutions did you receive your education?
I got a Bachelor of Sciences in Petroleum Engineering and a Bachelor of Sciences in Chemistry from Montana Tech, at Butte, Montana, USA in 1979, both, if I may say, of which I am very proud, with high honours.
Tell us about your inspiration to do the type of work you do.
I feel privileged to be part of a team whose daily activities aim at providing the “fuel” to drive progress in the world and that inspires me.
Your last name is an interesting one…an SUV and designer wear come to mind…tell our readers about it.
I have seen a lot of Prados on the streets of Trinidad, that’s one more reason to feel at home here (laughing).
What daily motto/credo do you live by and in a few words, your recipe for success?
Respect others, respect yourself, and take responsibility for all your actions.
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