Jesús Gil Benavides
Managing Director
View from the Top

Building Fabrication Expertise

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 11:59

Q: What is the fabrication experience of Commsa in the oil and gas sector?

A: Commsa has a strong track record of projects for the oil and gas sector, including the fabrication of 42 drilling platforms, four raised platforms, two light design platforms and several compression platforms. We also fabricate living quarters, bridges, and mechanical equipment such as separators for platforms. Although some of these mechanical items are fabricated in Monclova, they are all assembled and integrated at Tampico. Commsa currently has API4F, APIQ1, and ISO9001 certification, which allows us to construct equipment and infrastructure for onshore and offshore drilling.

Currently, Commsa is working on three platform projects: Tsimin-C, Ayatsil-A, and Balam-A. Of these, the largest is Ayatsil-A, which is 11,500 tonnes. All of these projects will be finished on schedule, by the end of 2013. Our overall capacity as a company is seven projects. Competition for this type of project is very high, and many companies simply cannot sustain their ambitions to stay in this business. Over the last few years, the number of companies in Mexico with the capabilities and capacity to work on such large projects has dropped from 12 to six. The key to success is to deliver projects on time and to a high standard. We are pleased that we have been able to stay in this business and continue to win contracts with Pemex.

Q: In platform construction, do you see a difference between the Mexican and international companies that have fabrication yards in the country?

A: The procedures for building rigs are standardized and certified in every country in the world where platform construction takes place, and Mexico is no exception. The only difference is the capacity of the various fabrication yards, McDermott and Dragados have much larger facilities than us, and so they are able to take on larger and more complex projects. However, we are working on improving the capacity of the Tampico yard, so that eventually we can compete for these larger contracts. Even if our yards will not be as big as our competitors’ in terms of surface, they will be just as large in terms of capacity. In Tampico, we currently have four skidways, each of which has the capacity to hold 7,000 tonnes. We are now increasing this capacity, and when this project is completed, the skidways will have a capacity of 12,000 tonnes each.

Q: Grupo Industrial Monclova, the group that Commsa is part of, has a number of competencies across diverse fields. Which strengths allow the group to diversify so successfully?

A: Everything we are involved in stems from our core business of fabrication. We started building structures for the oil and gas industry, and from there the next natural step was to move into building offshore platforms. From these, we moved into the gas business, and now we are building a new competency in the construction of gas pipelines. Our next step is to compete for onshore drilling rig contracts, but this is a difficult challenge because of the lack of innovation in this particular segment in Mexico. Pemex needs to refurbish and replace much of its drilling rig fleet, and we will definitely compete for these contracts. However, we need to build our competencies in large- scale and complex engineering projects that involve the integration of hydraulics and electronic systems. Currently, we only build the towers and the chassis for offshore platforms, but we want to gain the technology and the expertise to work on complete solutions.

Q: What is the best way to build this expertise?

A: Finding the answer to this question has proved extremely difficult for us. There is very little incentive for a company that already has the engineering expertise to share it with a company like ours; therefore we have to develop it on our own. This could be stimulated by government investment, but one thing is certain: the expertise will have to be home grown.