Yolanda Villegas
Founder and CEO
Oleum Servicios y Dictaminación Técnica
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View from the Top

Collaborating with Authorities Strengthens Technical Assurance

By Pedro Alcalá | Wed, 02/17/2021 - 08:55

Q: What are the most important areas of your company’s service portfolio?

A: We are one of only 18 companies authorized in Mexico to certify wells and expedite dictums on behalf of ASEA. Our dictums are necessary for any oil and gas operator to execute and update the drilling process of their wells. The opinion of an independent third party is required by law. That is our core line of business. We also offer legal advice and consultancy services on various subjects related to the Mexican oil and gas industry, such as social and community engagement, local content and environmental permits, including the drafting of Environmental Impact Assessments, the establishment of SASISOPAs, risk evaluation and analysis and other official opinions.

Q: How has your institutional relationship with ASEA changed over the last year?

A: There has been many changes at ASEA. Recently, many sector experts have left ASEA, unfortunately. As a result, new people in leadership positions are on a learning curve. We are encountering situations where ASEA employees are learning how to interpret large volumes of data that the agency generates and manages, and institutional analysis criteria still needs to be redeveloped. We have tried to assist ASEA as much as we can throughout this development, while forming new synergies with the agency in the process. Most of my team is made up of former ASEA and CRE employees, so they are highly trained in these kinds of tasks, with some of them having over 20 years of experience. Many of them also worked at SEMARNAT and participated in the original creation of ASEA. Thankfully, ASEA has agreed to all of our technical opinions and certifications, so our relationship has always been based on mutual respect for our team’s expertise. Unlike CRE, ASEA did not interrupt the execution of its regulatory duties at any point in 2020, and our communication with the agency was constant throughout the year.  

Q: What were the main lessons learned in 2020?

A: I would say that the main lesson learned was to be and remain resilient and patient. We have learned to be better allies to institutional authorities that remain in a state of transition. We have also learned never to make promises to our clients that we might not be able to keep. Many companies in our sector are giving their clients unrealistic time frames regarding permits and legal procedures. These time frames are not being met. You cannot guarantee anything in 10 working days or less. You have to be completely transparent with your clients and explain to them how long procedures would take under normal circumstances.

You must also communicate the degree of compliance with all anticorruption measures. Corruption and extralegal procedures have, unfortunately, become more common now under lockdown conditions than before. We must do all that is necessary to make sure clients know you are not part of the problem. Our work cannot be migrated to a remote modality; it requires onsite inspections and surveys.  In the process, we have come to understand how essential our work is, not only because the federal government mandated it as essential but also because of the role we play in the industry´s development. 

In general, we have remained in contact with all regulators, including SENER, CRE and CNH, and we have learned to adapt to their new institutional arrangements. Throughout this adaptation process, we have distinguished between geopolitics and public policy. Geopolitically, Mexico is still a long way from this administration’s stated goal of energy sovereignty. We continue to import 60 to 66 percent of our natural gas consumption from the US. In regard to public policy, the focus on refined products does not actually help you reach that geopolitical goal. This creates a complicated situation that is defined by governmental policies, so we have to learn to navigate this process.                         

 

Oleum Servicios y Dictaminación Técnica is a Mexican company that offers a variety of services to players in the industry, including technical opinions and evaluations, engineering and consultancy services.

Pedro Alcalá Pedro Alcalá Journalist and Industry Analyst