I am entitled to say that, as I have been working in Liepājas Metalurgs since 1992, but since 1996 I have been the company's Chief Engineer and I have been present in all change processes, modernizations, introduction of new technologies, as well as have been taking care that the equipment can still be used when it will be needed.
Every engineer has to face various challenges, which include managing various processes, I have always had a larger or smaller team with bigger and smaller tasks. For the most part, I have been not only a practicing engineer, but a team leader as well. In Liepājas Metalurgs, since the privatization of the company, we have had big challenges, both to maintain production and to participate in modernization processes. It is a big honour but also a big responsibility.
Of course, you cannot implement such projects successfully by yourself, you need a team, people who can help you. So that - as the Latvian saying says - you can conquer the mountains.
The change of technologies took place in 2010. At the end of the year, the last melting in the open-cast process was performed, and in August 2011 we started the new electrical steel melting process. The modernization took place in two stages. In 2006, the final stage of the casting equipment technology was modernized.
When insolvency was announced in 2013, the company resumed its operations in 2015, where the processes ended also with the termination of production in the rolling mill in 2016. Taking into account insolvency proceedings, the primary task was to maintain and sell the company as a working entity.
From 2016, the insolvency creditors resolved the issues of selling the company as a whole, in parts. It's a difficult process. Despite the fact that a part of both the movable and immovable property has been sold, all the basic technological equipment that ensures production is still in place and there is an opportunity for investments, given that a part of the property is owned by new owners.
This is not about selling empty buildings. There is a melting unit that includes not only the furnace, but also the necessary communications to provide electricity and everything else needed to operate the unit.
We - a certain number of employees - are here all the time to monitor this equipment or collateral. In the initial period, the readiness to renew operation was absolutely high but in recent years the task has been to ensure that this equipment in the future is used for the benefit of the state and other creditors.
All this equipment is designed for a continuous cycle 24/7. Of course, it has to be operated. There is no point in investing money in technologies that then are idle and are not in use. It was especially painful to see that the equipment was not working, and teams were forced to quit their jobs. And there were fewer and fewer people left. We made sure that all the equipment was maintained.
Almost five years have passed. There are now no people in the workshops, which had between 400 and 600 people. Those feelings are quite unpleasant.
Renewing the operation of equipment will not be easy, but it is not impossible if there is such a goal and desire. Given that many who are interested in purchasing the equipment, have assessed that it is in good condition. So, there is only one question - why it still idle.
Of course, there is no need to simplify this process. We need a team, we need staff, we need infrastructure to function. It also takes money to prepare everything and restore it.
Of course, the company was neither in the market nor in circulation. All this must be taken into account. The only plus - everything here is ready and tested. No need to rebuild anything.
The market situation in the world market is constantly changing. Europe is also taking decisive steps to secure its producers. The world is changing every year. I do not think it would be wise to destroy what is ready for operation. And no investor will invest a lot of money to simply destroy the plant and equipment afterwards. It is clear that an investor who buys equipment has an interest in making it work and ensuring production. I am certain about the competence and professionalism of the new owner, because not all investors are so knowledgeable about technical issues, which I was very surprised about. Undoubtedly, the new owner has a huge experience in the industry.