Balancing Realities with Possibilities in the Offshore SectorBy Pedro Alcalá | Tue, 12/01/2020 - 12:14
Q: How would you describe Grupo Roales’ activities and projects for 2020?
A: In 2019, we worked on two PEMEX projects related to the supply of integrated services through a number of vessels, specifically maintenance operations with support vessels standing by. During 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and the oil price downturn caused the industry to experience high levels of stress. This has led to the cancellation of projects, or at least their suspension until 2021 pending an economic recovery. This means, unfortunately, that we are looking at a 2020 with projects on standby.
Since 2018, we have been contemplating the possibility of expanding beyond Mexico’s energy sector. One of our options was the mining sector. Other options include the infrastructure and construction sectors. The pandemic has forced us to redesign our strategy since considerable segments of these industries' productive chains have also collapsed or have been temporarily suspended. This includes projects in the planning stages, since regulators and permitting authorities in these industries have also been working below capacity and many of their processes have been halted. For the most part, we have lost business since March.
The truth is that Mexico and its industries were not prepared for these setbacks. The electronic infrastructure of public institutions that manage the functioning of these industries, such as permitting, was not in place when the pandemic began.
Q: What measures has Grupo Roales taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
A: Workloads have been reduced dramatically and operational activities and volumes have remained low. For example, offshore operations are being managed by just a few crew members in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and maintenance at production facilities has been greatly reduced. Despite all of these precautions and a reduced workforce, positive cases have occurred in Mexico’s offshore environments. Contact tracing is hard or at times even impossible to achieve in these contexts, and asymptomatic hosts also make it a difficult situation to combat. Independently of our regulatory compliance and highly certified standards as a company, we are also making additional efforts to promote health and wellness among our staff through diet and exercise.
Q: How has the landscape of low oil prices increased logistical efficiency?
A: It has indeed greatly increased the importance of cost reduction for operators. They now have an interest in reducing their operational footprint, especially when they have to make space on their balance sheets for the additional expenses attributed to the pandemic’s health and safety protocols. Companies such as ours are restructuring the approach to engineering, design principals and cost reductions. The key term in the industry right now is financing. Most companies in the offshore sector are implementing efficiency measures, so what really gives a company its competitive edge is its access to financing. A company’s connection to PEMEX can play a role in this matter. For example, our contracts with PEMEX are currently suspended due to our concerns for our personnel. We remain connected to the NOC through these contracts, and that gives us an advantage when it comes to accessing financing options. PEMEX’s maintenance contracts, once reactivated, will have to increase related work volumes drastically due to the state its facilities will be in after this extended period with minimized maintenance. Processes and procedures will have to be altered and new types of technologies and equipment will have to be introduced. The amount of work will have to be done in less time and with a smaller crew. This will prove impossible without the introduction of new technologies.
In terms of maintenance, we will purchase more robust units that can provide detailed mechanical integrity studies that can analyze and transmit more data. These units can execute more than one inspection and analysis at a time. The use of these new technologies needs to be standardized among our clients. We also want to supply exploration technologies given PEMEX’s intention to invest in this category. We can supply both offshore and onshore seismic and data capture analysis technologies. The value of exploration analysis comes from human capital rather than the software involved. This means operators place their confidence in the technician interpreting the software data.
Grupo Roales is a regional leader in technical and corporate staffing as well as supply-chain services. Outsourcing, project management consulting and offshore catering are among its services.