“We are transforming Duro Felguera to face new challenges, without abandoning what has made us strong”.
EUROPEAN BUSINESS: Mr. Argüelles, Duro Felguera is a group with diversified businesses, tell us more about DF’s business segments and what you are focusing on now.
Jaime Argüelles: Duro Felguera is a global company based in Asturias (Spain). It was founded at the end of the 19th century with the first ironworks and coal mines, a period in which it was the most important agent of industrialisation in Spain. We are pioneers in large engineering projects and stand out for our capabilities and experience in EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) construction of energy and industrial projects, as well as in the provision of operation, assembly and maintenance services for industry. We have developed and are nowadays developing important projects in various countries in Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa and we are present in a large part of the world.
Our company is currently structured into five business units: Conventional Energy; Renewable Energies and Green Hydrogen; Industrial Plants, which includes our Mining & Handling, Oil & Gas businesses and our capital goods manufacturing workshops; Services, which covers everything related to operation, assembly and maintenance; and Intelligent Systems, which includes the Digital Security and Logistics Systems businesses.
Our strategy now is, on the one hand, to combine traditional businesses with the most innovative ones and to take advantage of the momentum of the energy transition and digital transformation. Areas such as Mining & Handling, Oil & Gas, Heavy Boilermaking, other types of work in Industrial Plants and O&M Services are traditional businesses that we are strengthening through innovation and digitalization and applying them to current environmental needs in sectors such as biomass, cogeneration, emissions reduction, CO2 capture, etc.
Also, on the other hand, to tackle new markets by investing in the renewable energy sector – with a special focus on the hydrogen vector, where we already have several projects – and in the development of new businesses linked to decarbonization, innovation and digitalization.
EUROPEAN BUSINESS: What are some of the biggest challenges you see in the energy and industrial sector? How does Duro Felguera help its clients improve their productivity and achieve sustainability goals, and how does it add value for them? Can you share with us one or two representative projects?
Jaime Argüelles: Climate change requires a change of energy model. This is no longer a matter of debate. We are facing a major energy crisis that was already brewing, which has been aggravated by the war in Ukraine and which has highlighted the need to make more and faster progress in the energy transition. That is the great challenge.
And Duro Felguera’s role is to offer solutions based on its knowledge of the sector, its proven technical capacity and its extensive experience. That is why we have created a Renewable Energies and Green Hydrogen business unit, to put our talent at the disposal of our customers and offer them a differential value. Our company has been executing electricity generation projects on an international scale for more than 20 years, with more than 26,000 MW of installed power. We work and collaborate regularly with the world’s leading technologists. This experience allows us to provide high added value solutions.
This answers the second part of the question, because Duro Felguera has always distinguished itself by providing differential value to its customers.
Furthermore, as a company, we are aware that sustainability is a determining value, and we constantly express our commitment to ESG criteria. Our sustainability policy is a fundamental tool in our activity and establishes important commitments such as reducing environmental impacts, improving energy efficiency, promoting awareness of environmental protection, ensuring product quality, strengthening a responsible supply chain, contributing to the protection of human rights and communities and ensuring responsible corporate governance.
In terms of relevant projects, the list is long given the wide range of activities we are involved in. We have won important contracts this year, but if I had to mention something in particular, I would mention those related to renewable hydrogen. Duro Felguera is becoming an active player in the green hydrogen sector.
The company is currently participating in bidding processes for hydrogen production plants with the clear objective of expanding its presence in this sector, based on its knowledge and experience of the different technologies and disciplines that converge in this type of project. I would also like to highlight our role in decarbonization, accompanying industries in this transition process and placing all our knowledge and experience at their disposal.
EUROPEAN BUSINESS: In Europe, we are facing some challenges (energy crisis, inflation or the war in Ukraine), what is the potential impact of the challenges on the energy industry and your business?
Jaime Argüelles: The first part of 2022 was difficult, in a context of war in Ukraine, geopolitical uncertainty, raw material shortages, inflation. As a result, decisions on major investment projects slowed down and business suffered. But the need for greater energy autonomy has awakened in the European Union the demand for greater infrastructures: regasification plants, storage equipment, all kinds of energy plants. And this is where Duro Felguera has its role to play.
So initially the consequences were negative, but that is where the opportunity has come from. In our case, the second part of 2022 has been much better. We have achieved a pretty significant contracting process.
EUROPEAN BUSINESS: DF has a lot of business around the world, can you share some thoughts on international markets? In which markets do you see the most potential for DF?
Jaime Argüelles: I believe that the international arena now offers us significant opportunities. The markets in our sectors have good prospects for the future for several reasons: large investments in Europe through the Next Generation plan, the Biden Plan in the USA, the renewed commitment in South America for industrial investments, as well as in North Africa, the Middle East… the world is undoubtedly evolving towards investment.
Moreover, in parallel, many projects are being mobilised in Spain, based on the strategic plans and European support plans, the hydrogen sector is key, as is the whole field of renewable energies… In short, all businesses related to the energy transition and digital transformation are going to have many investment possibilities and we have a lot of work to do there. We are going to take advantage of this momentum, without a doubt.
EUROPEAN BUSINESS: Mr. Argüelles, tell us about yourself, your personal experience or the lessons you have learned. Can you share something about your philosophy in terms of management, teamwork or sustainability?
Jaime Argüelles: I lead a company that has gone through a difficult period and that we are transforming to face new challenges, of course without abandoning what has made us strong. Innovation, digitalization and the implementation of more efficient working methods are the basis of the transformation we are driving.
I am also convinced that another of our great assets is our talent and we are working to maximise it.
And, of course, it is important to generate an atmosphere of trust and teamwork, to transmit a message of positivity and to work with enthusiasm reinforced by the promising future we are going to achieve.
Every day is full of challenges and opportunities that we must seize.