Case: YPFB, Bolivia (2019)

First of its kind and still going strong


The customer’s challenge

Our solution

The outcome

Filling plant in the mountains of Bolivia

High in the mountains of Bolivia, YPFB's Senkata filling plant is a vital part of the region's liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) supply. In 2014, MAKEEN Energy turned this plant into a world first, and to this day it continues to impress - despite a few hurdles.

4,200 metres above sea level - that is the height at which you will find the biggest LPG filling plant in western Bolivia. It is located in the fittingly named city of El Alto ("The Heights" in Spanish), and aside from its standard 36-post filling carrousel, it features a FLEXSPEED for cylinders with side-entry valves - the first in the world when it was inaugurated in March 2014.

Designing a Flexspeed for side-entry valves is a little more challenging compared to centre valves, because the cylinders have to be rotated to a very exact position when they enter the carrousel. That's handled by machinery. But aside from that, you need one or two operators to connect the filling heads, and they have to be able to keep up. But we have been able to make it work very well.

Renato Neves, Project Manager, MAKEEN Energy

Years later, this plant has experienced a few ups and downs, but through close partnership and cooperation between MAKEEN Energy and YPFB, all challenges have been overcome. Today, this location is an absolutely crucial part of the LPG supply in the area around El Alto and La Paz - and a testament to the value of careful service and never leaving anyone behind.

Constant attention prevents accidents

Even though we handed over the plant several years ago, we have never truly left it. Our technicians regularly visit the site, even if no issues have been reported, just to check in and see how things are going. Not only is this a great way to maintain business relations; it also sometimes results in the discovery of a problem that can then be remedied before it gets out of hand.

For example, during a visit, one of our technicians discovered that filling heads on the FLEXSPEED carrousel were leaking gas. Although it was known by the staff, it had not been reported, and it posed a considerable health and safety risk. The technician quickly sent word to our filling head department in Denmark, who immediately began to identify the issue. The carrousel received new filling heads, the leakage was stopped, and we honoured our commitment to always be there for our customer.

Spare parts save time

Another bump on the road for this plant came when YPFB reported that their carrousels had unexpectedly ceased to function. Upon hearing the description of the problem over the phone, our contact person immediately realised its source: the clutch had been over-tightened.

Luckily, we had three technicians in the country at the time and were able to respond quickly. One of them took a look at the clutch and was able to repair it on the spot. He also made it clear to YPFB that it would be a good idea to purchase a spare, since it would take a significantly longer time to get a new one from Denmark in case it had to be replaced. YPFB immediately ordered a spare clutch as a result.

Don't leave anybody behind

Our history with YPFB goes all the way back to 1985, and we continue to have a strong relationship. It is not just a fruitful series of transactions - our people know each other and are eager to share details and provide assistance. We do our utmost to repay our customers' trust by always making sure that the solutions and equipment we have provided are still performing as they should. It is normal for equipment to experience some technical issues from time to time, but it is proper maintenance and good communication with the customer that keeps a filling plant like Senkata running smoothly for years and years.

We are thankful for our good relationship with MAKEEN Energy. Whenever we have a technical issue, they respond quickly and with genuine concern. And even if we haven't experienced an issue, they still come by to shake hands and check up on the equipment. It makes our job easier to know we can count on them.

Ing. Jorge Clavijo, District Manager, Operation and Maintenance, YPFB

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