Awards Shortlist

LARTC 2023: Awards Shortlist

Published 11 August 2023

By Khanyisile Maswanganyi, Research Associate, World Refining Association

LARTC23 Awards Shortlists

The Latin American Refining Technology Conference (LARTC), will be hosting its 2nd annual Awards of Excellence ceremony which seeks to recognise and celebrate the notable achievements throughout the Latin American downstream industry. Our network submitted their nominations across six categories, upon which The World Refining Association created a longlist and put it to a panel of judges to create a shortlist. Based on the shortlist, the judges will then vote a second time to decide on a winner for each category.

Each of these nominees has been carefully chosen by our esteemed judges as they represent excellence and innovation. This article will be taking a closer look at the shortlisted candidates across the six categories and highlighting what makes them excellent.

Catalyst Producer of the Year Shortlist

Honeywell UOP Sponsor

Striving to offer top-notch quality at the most affordable prices, Honeywell UOP leads the market in hydrocracking, hydrotreating catalysts, and licensing. It's also been identified as a trailblazer in ecofining and renewables processing. Honeywell excels in every sector it operates, developing new technologies to address global challenges like sustainability, renewables, and hydrogen. What sets Honeywell apart is its unique ability to excel in multiple fields, from process technology and catalysts to automation, aeronautics, and more. This makes it a sought-after partner for collaborations, especially during times of change.

FCC S.A. – Fábrica Carioca de Catalisadores – collaborates closely with its clients, offering tailored technological solutions for FCC units, specialized technical services, and efficient logistics for catalyst delivery and removal. These partnerships boost cost efficiency and refinery margins while proving essential during uncertain post-pandemic and logistical challenges. The company's catalyst solutions extend beyond Latin America to include North America and other regions, showcasing innovation. With remarkable leadership and operational focus, FCC S.A. integrates seamlessly with clients, providing comprehensive support and monitoring for superior performance. These strategic partnerships have yielded sustained high yields and resilience in the Catalytic Cracking unit of the Buenos Aires Refinery, a crucial hub for gasoline and diesel production. FCC S.A. emerges as a dependable and innovative partner of choice.


On January 30th, 2023, Albemarle Corporation announced the launch of its wholly-owned subsidiary, Ketjen. The subsidiary was launched to focus on creating tailored, advanced catalyst solutions for the petrochemical, refining, and specialty chemicals industries. As its own special brand, Ketjen will keep helping customers with their specific shifts toward cleaner energy. This covers moving from fluidized catalytic cracking to clean fuels, hydro-processing, and even organometallics and curatives .
One entry stood out by showcasing how Ketjen's catalysts played a crucial role in their impressive success. The submission quoted: “The Ketjen catalyst is delivering exceptional results in our Diesel & Naphtha Hydrotreater unit, surpassing the initially predicted lifespan. This prolonged cycle is advantageous not just for maximizing feed processing benefits, but also for coordinating catalyst replacement across different units in a single turnaround, instead of multiple instances. Additionally, positive outcomes were achieved when utilizing renewable feeds in these units”.

Digital Technology of the Year Shortlist

AI Process Optimization

Since 2022, Imubit has grown a lot and now runs over 50 AI models to improve processes in the biggest refineries worldwide. They're known as leaders in using AI to make refineries work better, having partnered with top companies for more than 5 years. Imubit has shared real-life examples of success, like helping Delek US Refining and Oxbow LLC boost their profits. By using AI, Imubit has increased yearly earnings by millions through smarter refinery strategies. They're also focusing on sustainability now, using AI to cut down on natural gas by 15-30% and reduce CO2 emissions while making sure yields are maximized.

AspenTech Sponsor

Aspen Mtell

AspenTech Mtell uses predictive maintenance technology to report the earliest, most accurate warning for equipment failure . Through machine learning, Mtell can identify the exact arrangements in the operating data that point to degradation and impending failure – before it happens. Aspen Mtell is incredibly versatile – it seamlessly works with a wide array of manufacturing equipment and systems, such as controllers, control systems, data systems, and more. Its adaptability makes it a valuable tool across different aspects of the business. In LATAM refining, it has been adopted by Pan American Energy, its currently in the process of being implemented at YPF and has been selected by Ecopetrol as an asset monitoring solution.

CISCO/Honeywell/Motorola/Raizen Argentina

To enhance the Refinery's performance with new digital solutions, a project called ‘Hyperconnectivity' was carried out by a team of experts. They set up wireless connections using Wi-Fi, ISA100 Wireless, and WirelessHART networks in the Buenos Aires Refinery. This first phase covers more than half of the Refinery's operations and includes sensors to monitor equipment like machines that spin. This helps predict issues before they happen. The success of this project will lead to even more improvements, like better connections, smarter equipment monitoring, and innovative technologies such as Virtual Reality and predictive maintenance.


Energy Transition Solution of the Year Shortlist


SAF Technologies

Dubbed the “Flight Green Plan”, Topsoe has formulated this initiative to assist businesses in the aviation industry to find low-carbon solutions. Topsoe offers feedstock flexibility and various technologies that suit the different needs of aviation businesses and help them find optimal solutions. Some of the feedstock they make use of includes virgin oils, biomass, or renewable energy and captured CO2. Whatever the case may be, they ensure the possibility of a low-carbon jet with a high yield and a high market value .
Topsoe recently entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Sasol Ltd., to create a 50/50 Joint Venture (JV) by 2023. This partnership aims to manufacture sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). The JV's objective is to collaboratively establish, construct, possess, and manage initiatives dedicated to producing SAF. These fuels will be developed using Sasol's Fischer Tropsch technology combined with Topsoe's pertinent SAF technologies.

Diesel R5

Petrobras is working on creating new products and fuels that produce fewer harmful gases during their lifespan, a plan that matches what people and the world are asking for. One of these is Diesel R, a kind of fuel that is better for the environment and more efficient. Diesel R is made by mixing regular diesel, made from oil, with materials from plants or animals like soybean oil. They mix these using a special process that involves hydrogen, catalysts, high temperatures, and pressure. This is a common method in Europe and the United States to quickly and affordably introduce cleaner fuels. Right now, Petrobras makes Diesel R5 S10 at the Presidente Getúlio Vargas Refinery (Repar) in Brazil. It's a blend of 95% regular diesel and 5% renewable diesel from soybean oil, following the rules set by the government. They are also planning to sell Diesel R5 S10 mixed with biodiesel for bigger customers. Petrobras is also planning to make and sell more Diesel R at other refineries in the next few years, starting with the Cubatão Refinery in 2023.

AspenTech Sponsor


Aspen DMC3 Smart Tune technology enhances the agility and simplicity of APC (Advanced Process Control) controllers by streamlining their tuning and configuration processes. The intelligent solver within Smart Tune allows for direct configuration of economic objectives, eliminating the need for manual tuning. This method, combined with a web-based interface, offers deeper insights into controller strategies.The Aspen DMC3 Adaptive Process Control technology ensures that control models remain updated while retaining the advantages of closed-loop optimizing control. The Calibrate mode facilitates automatic background step testing, while a proactive algorithm maintains variables within defined limits, reducing the need for operator intervention.
With Aspen DMC3, new APC projects can be commissioned within weeks using seed models and adaptive process control techniques. The software incorporates robust control technology that enhances controller resilience to model conditioning issues and discrepancies. A single tuning factor empowers users to adjust optimizer aggressiveness, leading to increased APC utilization and sustained benefits, even in suboptimal conditions.
By leveraging process knowledge, Aspen DMC3 improves model accuracy and reduces the risk of erroneous gains. The software facilitates preserving control model structures by imposing real-world constraints on model identification.

Young Refiner of the Year Shortlist

Ludmila Ribeiro de Francisco, Process Engineer, Petrobras

Since 2022, Imubit has grown a lot and now runs over 50 AI models to improve processes in the biggest refineries worldwide. They're known as leaders in using AI to make refineries work better, having partnered with top companies for more than 5 years. Imubit has shared real-life examples of success, like helping Delek US Refining and Oxbow LLC boost their profits. By using AI, Imubit has increased yearly earnings by millions through smarter refinery strategies. They're also focusing on sustainability now, using AI to cut down on natural gas by 15-30% and reduce CO2 emissions while making sure yields are maximized.


Felipe Antonio Diaz Romero, Maintenance and Reliability Engineer, Ecopetrol

Felipe has been an outstanding engineer at Ecopetrol, notably at the Cartagena Refinery for the past five years. In annual performance evaluations, he consistently ranks among the top percentile due to his significant contributions to technological advancements and analysis of rotating equipment conditions. His leadership led to solutions for challenging centrifugal pump sealing systems, particularly in hydrofluoric acid (HF) alkylation units. These solutions reduced failures from 20 events in 2018 to only 2 in 2022, enhancing availability and decreasing maintenance costs, amounting to a benefit of 1.5 million USD. Felipe's cross-functional leadership is evident in the digital transformation of technical management through the in-house development of data visualization and integration tools. Notably, his work in developing an application using data analytics for projecting run cycles under fouling effects led to over 92% operational availability of the Cartagena refinery's FCC unit. He has also contributed to reducing rotating equipment failure rates in various refinery units. Felipe's remarkable leadership has significantly impacted the Cartagena refinery, culminating in a historic EBITDA result of 967 million USD in 2022. He is hailed as a transformative leader who influences culture and processes from operations to management levels.

Eduardo Pavani, Chemical Engineer, Pan American Energy

Eduardo is currently based in the production area. He has made great strides in leading the new Coker Unit at PAE. Through the optimisation, they have managed to achieve monthly processing records in the last year with outstanding tasks that focused on the improvement of reliability, operational efficiency, energy efficiency, and improvements in product quality. His collaborative efforts across technical divisions, maintenance teams, equipment suppliers, and chemical partners resulted in a notable 15% enhancement in Coker Unit processing. Actively engaging in Coker forums and networks played a pivotal role in this achievement.

Pan American Energy

Downstream Executive of the Year Shortlist


Rodrigo Abramof, Petrobras

Rodrigo has led Petrobras' RefTOP program effectively, bringing both financial gains and reduced carbon emissions. With over 30 years in the oil industry, Rodrigo Abramof's extensive experience at Petrobras' highest levels has driven strategic development. His management prioritizes refinery profitability, safety, and future-oriented thinking for energy transition and sustainability. His reputation spans Latin America, often being invited to contribute at congress round tables due to his impactful insights.

Alejandro Vago, Raizen Argentina

With over 30 years of experience in the Downstream sector, Alejandro's leadership skills have been honed through various roles at national and international levels. As the Director of the Buenos Aires Refinery, he showcased exceptional leadership in 2022, a crucial year marked by a major refinery shutdown and a significant project for processing Vaca Muerta crude. His contributions also extended to projects like improving fuel quality, efficient energy generation, and embracing digital transformation. Alejandro's influence has expanded the scope of work and nurtured talent across disciplines, shaping the present and future.

Alejandro Vago

Walter Canova, Ecopetrol

Walter Canova is a Chemical Engineer with extensive experience in oil refining and related industries. He started his career with ExxonMobil and worked there for 21 years, holding various roles including Refiner Change Manager. Later, he joined Axxion Energy as a Project Development Manager, then moved to Puma Energy as Refinery General Manager. He eventually became Chief Operating Officer at Ecopetrol's Cartagena Refinery, producing clean diesel and gasoline. Since 2018, Walter has been the General Manager at the Cartagena Refinery.

Refinery of the Year Shortlist

Axion / Pan American Energy: Refinería Campana

They stand out in their region as a pioneer in transitioning to cleaner energy and adopting decarbonization technologies with successful implementation. Utilizing the fully operational New Hydrotreater Diesel Unit, they efficiently processed up to 10% of Tallow and soybean oil, making a groundbreaking decision to be the first refinery to exclusively produce diesel with less than 10ppm sulfur emissions, thereby significantly reducing environmental impact. The PAE Campana Refinery in Argentina achieved a significant milestone by successfully completing an expansive Expansion Project. This endeavor saw the construction of a new 37kbd Coker Unit, a 45kbd Diesel Hydrotreatment plant, and the expansion of crude capacity to 100kbd, along with increasing the capacity of the FCCU to 31kbd. Notably, they erected four electrical substations and over 15 new tanks. Impressively, this remarkable development was carried out while the refinery remained fully operational, and a remarkable 13 million man-hours were logged without any disabling accidents.
This transformation has turned the Campana Refinery into a beacon of excellence, delivering exceptional outcomes in Safety, Production, and financial performance. It has positioned itself as one of the most advanced and contemporary refineries, boasting an integrated energy efficiency index with a notable 7-point reduction. Furthermore, the refinery's crude capacity has been elevated to 100 kbd, with additional enhancements planned for the Delayed Coker Diesel Hydrotreater and FCC units, ensuring a promising future


Petrobras Paulinia Refinery “REPLAN”

REPLAN, the largest Petrobras refinery, stands out with impressive achievements. Boasting a remarkable capacity to process 434,000 barrels of crude oil per day, it plays a vital role in supplying about 30% of Brazil's fuel market. In the year 2022, REPLAN's performance soared, achieving top-tier results in critical areas such as Net Cash Margin, Return on Investment, Cost of Transportation Fuels, and Total Cash Operating Expenses for Latin America. What truly sets REPLAN apart is its exceptional commitment to energy efficiency and environmental responsibility. Ranking among the best in Latin America, they've made strategic investments, including innovative upgrades like a new component for a Coking unit. This forward-thinking move resulted in impressive savings of 14,000 Nm3/d of Natural Gas consumption and a reduction of 11,000 tons per year in CO2 emissions.
Continuing its upward trajectory, REPLAN is in the process of constructing a cutting-edge Diesel Hydrotreatment unit. Expected to begin operations in 2025, this unit will have the capacity to produce an impressive 63,000 barrels per day of ultra-low sulfur diesel. This ambitious endeavor is geared towards increased jet fuel production to meet future market demands, all while maintaining an impeccable safety record – a remarkable 0.00 in Recordable Accident Rate.

Acelen, Matripe Refinery

Formerly known as the Landulpho Alves Refinery (RLAM), the Mataripe refinery is located in São Francisco do Conde, within the Mataripe district of North-East Brazil. Mubadala Capital acquired the refinery on December 1, 2021, and its operations are currently managed by Acelen. This company was established to run the Mataripe Refinery and ensure a continued supply of refined products to the Northeastern region of Brazil. The Mataripe refinery holds the distinction of being Brazil's first-ever operating refinery and is presently the second largest, boasting a substantial production capacity. With the ability to process more than 300,000 barrels of oil per day, it contributes to 14% of Brazil's total refining capacity. The refinery is equipped with 26 processing units, 4 storage terminals, 201 storage tanks, and a pipeline network spanning 669 kilometers, linking the refinery to port terminals.
Its extensive operations encompass the creation of over 31 diverse products, catering primarily to the mobility, transportation, chemical, pharmaceutical, and petrochemical sectors. These products encompass a wide range, including diesel, gasoline, fuel oils, LPG, and more.

Alejandro Vago

Celebrating outstanding achievements in Latin American Refining

13 September 2023 | Rio De Janeiro


Matt Maginnis

M : +44 (0) 207 384 8006

E: [email protected]

Delegate Sales

Joshua Arias

M: +1 (0) 346 481 9330

E: [email protected]

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