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Challenge Cup

Winner Spotlight: How Orco Power Is Generating 75 Percent Savings with Crude Oil

After 20 years in the oil and fuel business, Carlos Nieto Ramirez saw a need to improve industrial processes by reducing costs and environmental impact. Orco Power was the solution.

Based in Bogota, Colombia, Orco Power created an additive that modifies crude oil to make it a practical replacement for diesel fuel in high RPM engines. This process reduces energy costs by up to 75 percent.

Orco Power took home the prize in the energy category at Boston Challenge Cup and will compete at Challenge Festival in D.C. later this spring. We talked to founder Carlos Nieto Ramirez about his company and the innovations he’s made in the oil industry.

What does Orco Power do? How does that work?

We are an energy service company that produces additives that modify crude oil to replace diesel fuel in power generators at remote oil fields, where they can use the oil available in the field and not have to truck diesel fuel from far away.

Our system generates up to 75 percent savings, and we are currently operating in seven oil fields—a total of 20 MW generating over $1 million in revenue in 2014.

Tell me about your experience in the energy industry and the beginnings of Orco Power. What problems were you trying to solve when you founded this company?

We are a product of more than 20 years of research and experience managing and advising power generation plants running with crude, pipeline pumps running with crude and operations and maintenance of oil pipelines in organizations like OXY, Enbridge and OCP (heavy crude pipeline of Ecuador). The fundamentals of our product come from thermodynamics principles mixed with crude oil logistics and an energy efficiency conscience.

How is Orco different than other companies doing similar things in the energy industry?

We are not aware of any company doing something similar with high RPM engines. The comparable solutions are:

  • Power generation with low RPM engines that have a capital investment of $1.2 million per installed MW
  • Diluting the crude with thinners and using lower proportions of crude—our solution allows the engine to work with 100 percent light crude

How many people are on your team, and what roles do they play?

We are a father-and-son team that has been collaborating for more than 18 years. Senior has always been the technical visionary with great innovation propositions that have led to the solutions we have brought to market. I have always looked after the monetization of the innovative ideas and ways to fund the opportunities and bring them to market.

In your opinion, what factor has had the most significant impact on your success so far?

The incredible creative mind of Senior combined with his execution abilities. Anything he sets his mind on doing—he gets it done! As well as the complementary technical and business team we have created.

How have you overcome the challenges that come along with building a startup?

We have been able to bootstrap the company up to today given that our innovation generates such high savings (75 percent of fuel cost in power generation) that impact the bottom line of remote oil fields. Most of our scaling projects were paid by our clients. We have also secured a grant from innPulsa Colombia, an entity of the Colombian government.

What hopes do you have for the future of Orco Power?

We are working on a globalization strategy, and at the moment we have signed an LOI with a company working in Africa as and oil and gas operator that is interested in promoting our solution, and we are exploring a similar relationship with Mexico.

We are interested in developing a relationship with a strategic partner that can support us on our globalization strategy. It could be an E&P company, an equipment rental company for the oil and gas industry, an additives company.

Danica Smithwick

As a member of 1776’s editorial team, Danica Smithwick spends her time telling stories and communicating with others. She is a Union University and Washington Journalism Center student who loves…

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