ACFM Services for Offshore Inspection
“Today, Binsmar is the front-runner in new inspection technologies, not because we created them, but because we were among the first ones to use them with the Mexican energy industry,” explains Jorge Luís Díaz Reyes, head of non-destructive testing at Binsmar, a diving, inspection and maintenance company based in Ciudad del Carmen. The company was among the first to use ultrasound technology for phased array testing, and the first to use Alternative Current Field Management (ACFM) for marine structures, vessels and on the surface. As well as being one of the main companies to offer ACFM inspection, Binsmar has Level 2 class inspectors that are directly certified with the manufacturer.
ACFM is considered to be a cutting edge technology for non-destructive testing (NDT). So, when Binsmar was offered the opportunity to purchase its first ACFM equipment eight years ago, they decided to move away from conventional NDT techniques and embrace ACFM.
One challenge facing any company with new technology is competing on price with well-established alternatives. In Mexico, this can be a particularly acute problem, as both introducing new technologies and finding customers to pay for them can prove extremely troublesome. However, Díaz Reyes says that Binsmar’s technologies have managed to carve out a market niche. “Even as one of Mexico’s most expensive inspection companies, we get invited to present our financial proposal to potential clients. Once they give us the opportunity to participate in a project, they analyse the cost at the end of the project and realize that our cost is actually lower than that of any other company. We keep the inspection times to a minimum thanks to our equipment and qualified personnel. In addition, the quality of the inspection process is excellent. Although we have worked with Pemex in the past, most of the time we work for the service companies that work for the NOC, such as Schlumberger, Cotemar and Halliburton. For them, speed is more of an issue than cost. Although some of our competitors have a larger capacity, we compensate for this with our technology and personnel.”
Díaz Reyes believes that Pemex has become stricter in taking care of its installations in recent years, and started moving to preventative maintenance from a cycle of corrective maintenance. He says that, for example, almost no corrective maintenance takes place on vessels today and that, recently, Pemex has been doing more preventative maintenance on its fixed platforms with the intention of completely eliminating corrective procedures in the years to come.
Given Binsmar’s focus on class inspection and diving services, the company is keen to participate in Pemex’s planned deepwater projects. The company already has experience in saturation diving projects (where divers are required to submerge to below 70m water depths). In addition, Díaz Reyes says that Binsmar has come a long way in improving its inspection services, most recently working with Seadrill at its deepwater West Pegasus platform in the Gulf of Mexico.