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Interview

with Benoit Papy, CEO of Veolia CLE, Brazil

01.11.2013 / Energyboardroom

Benoit Papy, CEO of Veolia CLE, explains how the company’s energy solutions in water treatment, wastewater treatment, water reuse and sludge bring the highest operating performance and environmental safety to different clients in various industries including steel and cellulose manufacturing and oil refineries.

Veolia Environment is a recent investor in emerging countries. Could you outline how the company has been supporting one of the largest emerging economies in Latin America through Veolia CLE? 

In 2001, when Veolia Environment decided to invest in Brazil, the market outlook for environmental solutions and our services was rather opaque. Veolia Environment wanted to achieve market penetration through the development of greenfield projects and this initiative rapidly grew as today we have new greenfield projects in pulp and paper, as well as water treatment and waste water treatment for cellulose companies.

Since the beginning, our intention was to be recognized as the best company for clients on site. Through our main client ArcelorMittal, Veolia CLE has shown the market and clients we are able to develop a long-term relationship with our clients, and provide design, building, operation and maintenance of their plants. Veolia Environment invested $40 million in CLE .

ArcelorMittal is a member of the United Nations Global Compact initiative, defending human rights, labor standards, environmental conditions and fighting corruption. How did this initiative reinforce your collaboration?

Global Compact has been a very positive initiative for both parties and Veolia Environment and CLE have always been extremely careful in meeting these standards for their clients. In 2003, Veolia CLE obtained the ISO 14000 environmental management certification, HOSAS safety certification and quality certification ISO 9001. These standards are what sets us apart from the competition and make us proud of working for Veolia and our clients.

ArcelorMittal’s plant covers an area of 100,000m2, accounting for less than five percent of the total size of their property, which is 2.2 million m2 and covered in natural forests. Our collaboration has focused on achieving the highest performance for both the plant and the environment. With the objective of reaching 100 percent water use rate by 2014, ArcelorMittal’s gradual increase in steel production has been achieved along with protection of biodiversity on site.

How competitive are Veolia CLE’s environmental solutions?

Veolia defines its competitive offer in energy optimization through water and wastewater treatment. At Veolia CLE we have a very sophisticated biological treatment, using the highest environmental standards. With our services, our clients not only have a stronger environmental footprint but also increase the performance of their plants. Our capabilities bring reductions in energy consumption and water reuse. For instance, through our operations at CLE, 98 percent of the water is reused. In the last 10 years, we did not experience any environmental issues.

You joined Veolia Environment 21 years ago and took the reins at Veolia CLE in Brazil in 2010. What motivated your decision to come to the Brazilian market and what has been on your agenda since then?

When I arrived, Veolia CLE in Brazil was already performing well. This ongoing success was the result of an already well-managed company, operated by talented people both in management and the plant. 58 people have been fully committed to the operational success of ArcelorMittal’s plant and in 10 years we have only experienced a turnover of eight people, which meant that we could maintain a great team through this period. Similarly, the operational chief has been here since the beginning and has been able to keep the team motivated and focused on achieving excellent results.

My main mission at Veolia CLE has been oriented toward customer satisfaction. In this process I have been receiving feedback from the client and taking the time to assess which improvements have to be made. Our service level has been perfect, and our results are allowing us to extend our contract of services. In 2002, we signed a Design Built Own Operate (DBOO) contract with ArcelorMittal for 15 years. In 2009, we extended our contract through a plant capacity expansion to improve water treatment equipment. Being fully committed to our clients defines who we are and the level of our service has been optimal at all times. My role is to make sure that this lasts.

How is Veolia Environment planning to diversify in Brazil and where is CLE planning to become an active player?

Over time we have developed the best knowledge in engineering wastewater treatment plants. This is the reason why our affiliate company VVS has been awarded 11 contracts out of 13 for wastewater treatment in refineries, and our results are close to that range with cellulose and steel companies. We see a good chance to develop amongst large Brazilian groups in different sectors, and one of the most important clients is of course Petrobras. We signed this year the first oily sludge recovery contract ever in Latin America. This special technique has been developed in many refineries in the US, specifically in Texas, and has proven to be highly useful. The process is done through three centrifuges that sort oily sludge from the refineries into oil, water and sludge. This technique allows water reuse as well as oil recovery that can be sold. After signing the contract in March, the start of operations is planned for the beginning of December of this year [2013].

How important is Veolia CLE for the group and where do you plan expansion for the future?

Until last year CLE was a reference for the group and will remain as such if we manage to renew our contract with ArcelorMittal. Considering our success over the last 10 years and our customer’s satisfaction we have confidence that this will happen.

In terms of expanding, cellulose is the industry where we see the most potential for the future. We can assist our clients with full management utility services, including energy optimization and energy management in wastewater, solid waste and part hazardous waste. We may acquire a company in hazardous waste to bring our clients the fullest service package available on the market. What remains certain is that Brazil has many opportunities and our solutions can adapt to many industries. With such possibilities to expand in Brazil, I have good hopes for our future prospects.

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