Enrique Martínez
Director General
SOT Inc.
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View from the Top

Building Out a Solutions Portfolio from Its ROV Roots

By Pedro Alcalá | Wed, 05/04/2022 - 13:24

Q: How would you evaluate SOT Inc.’s success in 2021?

A: Despite the difficulties related to COVID-19, last year was a very good year for the company. We worked with a major private service provider supplying Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), which are considered a major focus for ROT, especially in service to PEMEX. Our approach to the private sector has been straightforward because it already understands the technology. The private contract was a success because we were able to save around 35 percent of our client’s operating costs, compared to if they had used conventional equipment. This effectiveness does depend on the characteristics of each project. Sometimes, hiring our ROVs is not the best option. Nevertheless, our work for wellheads in shallow waters has been valuable and productive. 

Q: How have the growing needs of private operators altered the company’s service offer in the market?

A: Mexican players must adapt to new requirements in line with international practices regarding funding and contract requirements. This was a little challenging for SOT at first. Nevertheless, we have the technical and technological capabilities, as well as the in-depth knowledge of our own waters. Alone, these factors are not enough, but taken together we add a great deal of value via our inspection services. Although we had to adapt to this new environment, the client ended up satisfied with SOT’s performance. Our experience and track record opened this door to the private sector.

Q: How is the company developing its product portfolio?

A: Our workforce is entirely Mexican and has international experience working  with world-class equipment as well. We are working with Teledyne Marine, one of the world’s largest developers of subsea technologies. We collaborate and get the support from Teledyne’s brand distribution in the Mexican market, adding some Mexican components to the mix during the manufacturing process as well. Some of this equipment, which includes ROVs but also hydrographic survey tools and sensors, including one of the most powerful sonars, the Multibeam T50 Model, is already available in Ciudad Del Carmen and can be mobilized within 24 hours. From 2021 to 2024, we have developed and will continue to develop improved business models to market these products, while diversifying the Mexican portfolio even more. We are transitioning from merely supplying ROVs to a wider range of services that includes surveys and subsea condition monitoring. 

The subsea environment is massive. We began by focusing on ROVs but sought out the most sophisticated, sustainable and environmentally friendly equipment to use below the sea’s surface. Our know-how and nose for opportunity combined with Teledyne’s excellent portfolio consisting of ROVs, Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) and sensors offer a great value proposition. Since we focus on the environment now, we have managed to branch out from the Oil and Gas sector toward environmental protection. We work hard to identify and target such niches. If the Mexican workforce is not yet prepared to work in these innovative environments, we then provide the training to make this happen. To this end, we have established partnerships with two leading universities and have developed engineering courses. We need additional Mexican experts to manage and operate new technologies and their software. We are also introducing this approach to students who are studying sustainability practices.

Q: What is the importance of automation regarding the operation of ROVs and AUVs for Mexico’s local market?

A: In our conversations with PEMEX, the topic of automation continues to come up. The NOC is convinced of the necessity of such technology, especially work-class ROVs and the smaller observation-class ROVs. This entails changes in operation that involve high costs, with PEMEX likely paying around 60 percent more than with sophisticated technologies. Regardless, the trend toward automation and digitalization will continue. Robots are already a requirement to operate successfully in Mexico. The market for automated solutions will grow, especially in the subsea environment. 

Q: How would you describe the evolution of your relationship with PEMEX, given the changes in contracting modalities?

A: This change has been accelerating ever since the López Obrador administration took office in 2018. PEMEX has seen many changes in the past three years. SOT is analyzing these changes and determining whether to bet on working with either PEMEX or the private sector. No matter who the client is, they are open to adopting new technologies. The company is working hard to work directly with PEMEX, which is already convinced of our solutions and benefits. Therefore, the time is now to show our worth and commitment by entering a partnership and developing it even further. 

Q: Where does the company identify the biggest opportunities for 2022?

A: The pandemic has affected the Oil and Gas sector but every crisis also yields new opportunities. For SOT, this crisis meant looking toward manufacturing new equipment and doing business in other industries. Environmental impact and protection are therefore of great importance for the company and its future. With more of the industry’s infrastructure aging, this work within our new target market will become increasingly important. As a Mexican company, we can make significant contributions to the industry, the environment and society.

 

Subsea Offshore Technology (SOT Inc.) is a Mexican firm offering unique subsea inspection services through affordable and environmentally -conscious means. The company’s ROVs are equipped for shallow waters and deal with oil and gas and environmental issues.

Pedro Alcalá Pedro Alcalá Senior Journalist & Industry Analyst