17 April 2013

The Voice of Matias Perez

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Matias Perez, Board Member of Gasco in Chile and WLPGA Board Member, shares his views of the LP Gas industry in his region and also gives a fascinating insight into his family history.

[/custom_font]Matias, could you give us a little background into your career in the industry and maybe a little insight into what you enjoy outside of the LP Gas world?

I was born in Santiago, Chile, 50 years ago.  I am tenth of a large family of 11 brothers and sisters.  As time has passed, this big family has managed to multiply itself into an even bigger one of 120 members including all the in-laws children and grandchildren.

I am married to a Chilean artist, Ximena Cousiño and we have seven children ages 18 to 8 years old. I received my Certificate as a Lawyer from the Supreme Court of Chile in June 1986, after studies at the Catholic University of Chile.  I then stayed in Cambridge, England for a year for my postgraduates studies.  When I came back to Chile I worked for seven years at the Opera House in Santiago and at the same time joined a Law Firm where I became a senior partner, specialising in Corporate Business, Tax Law, Legal Concessions for Utilities and Family Law. My father passed away when I was 25 and together with my brothers and sisters we took over the responsibilities in energy companies where my father had significant investments.  My brothers started participating in companies related with electric distribution and transportation.  In 1997 I became a member of the Board of GASCO, founded in 1857 and one of the oldest in Chilean history.  It is in the business of Town Gas, LP Gas and natural gas.  From 2001 until 2010 I was President of that company (now I am member of the Board) and participated in several subsidiaries, among them GASCO GLP S.A., Metrogas (natural gas), where I have been the President since 2001 and companies in Argentina (natural gas) and Colombia, where Gasco now has a 25% of market share.

It has been fascinating to be witness of the growth of our businesses of LP Gas and natural gas for the last decade. Outside work, I am very involved in  culture and classical music and opera.  Since we have a large family, our main preoccupation  are our children, six of them in school and one already in university.  We also have a vineyard near Santiago called VIÑA PEREZ CRUZ  and we love to be involved in the making of our superb red wines of the Maipo Valley.

Any thoughts on the immediate key challenges facing the LP Gas industry in your region.

Latin America is a wonderful continent with a variety of landscapes, climates, diversity of cultures and people.  Despite our differences, we have many things in common.   The language is divided between Spanish and Portuguese only; we have a strong European influence and inherited values from Spain and Portugal. There is a great deal of wealth and development that contrasts with a significant cultural and economic poverty.  The gap between rich and poor is still too high.  LP Gas has crucial role in the way we could eliminate poverty in our continent.  Millions in South America use traditional fuels such as wood for cooking  with disastrous consequences for health and the environment.  Pollution caused by use of dirty fuels in transportation is also significant.  We see a great opportunity for the LP Gas industry and an obligation to push the use of LP Gas to potentially create a better quality of life for millions.   Another important challenge is to increase the standards of security: In many countries we have high standards of security procedures in the industry of LP Gas but in others, security is far too relaxed and this needs addressing.

What do you see as the prime opportunities for the industry in Chile the coming years?

My obsession is to try to convince government authorities to implement and promote the use of Autogas, both LP Gas and natural gas. Now we have tax and other restrictions that prevent us from fully developing the Autogas in the region.  Chile depends on imports of LP Gas, natural gas and fuels derived from oil.  We have high levels of contamination caused by the extensive use of diesel in engines.  Gasco has created a subsidiary called AUTOGASCO and we have been participating in the DAKAR Rally with our own team in order to promote the use of LP Gas in vehicles not only in Chile but in the wider region. Gasco are also leaders in promoting the use of LP Gas in innovative ways such as agricultural wind mills to prevent frost; the use of outboard motors for boats in the salmon industry, etc.

What benefits do you see as being a member of WLPGA and how can the WLPGA support you in Chile?

The WLPGA is the one and only worldwide association that can provide the LP Gas industry, government officials, regulators and customers with the best practices, policies, experience, values and all the knowledge that is required to promote LP Gas as a safe, clean and competitive energy.  I strongly recommend everybody who is in a any way related to the LP Gas or energy industry to join WLPGA.  It will change the way you manage your business and help change the industry, for the better.