Engineering Safety Throughout the Value ChainTue, 01/21/2020 - 17:29
Safety specialists in Mexico’s oil and gas industry face unique puzzles that require local acuity to provide unique solutions, says Roberto Vázquez, Vice President and General Manager of Crouse-Hinds’s Mexico and Latin America operations. He points to differences with the US as an example: “The oil and gas industry in the US prefers iron as a metal base for their explosion-proof boxes and equipment. However, we manufacture with aluminum because PEMEX clients prefer this lightweight material.”
According to the US Energy Information Administration, while two-thirds of global oil production came from onshore fields in 2015, Mexico produced 75 percent of its production from offshore wells. Consequently, safety specifications are different, making customization a key for the Mexican oil and gas scenario. Offshore conditions also demand stronger forms of protection for safety equipment. The corrosiveness of sea salt can destroy electrical equipment, including lighting systems or power and control systems, within six months.
These installations, integral to the crew’s safety, require innovative engineering solutions to stay functional in the harsh environment. To overcome these obstacles, Crouse-Hinds, part of the US$21 billion Eaton family since being acquired in 2012, pooled its knowledge to generate enhanced protection ideas. “We worked with an American company to develop a specialized coating process that protects products completely,” he points out.
Before its acquisition by Eaton, Crouse-Hinds had already been at the forefront of industrial safety in Mexico for six decades, renowned for its exceptional safety record across industries. Without the explosive boxes, lighting systems and apparatus that the company, and others like it, manufactures at its Mexico City factory, the industry would be a far more dangerous place. “We are conscious of the vital role our products play in the safety of lives and assets. We work to keep our standards exceptionally high because we know any failing could be catastrophic. This dedication is the reason so many end-users and contractors choose our products,” Vázquez says.
These high standards have been the driving force behind Crouse-Hind’s commanding 60 percent market share in Mexico. It is a major player in safety solutions in the country and will play a significant role as the oil and gas industry expands. “Our products are in demand throughout the entire value-chain, from drilling in upstream, to midstream transportation and refinery stations, to gas stations in the downstream segment,” he explains.
As more players enter the Mexican oil and gas market, bringing with them international specifications, the demands on safety manufacturers evolves and opens opportunities. It is here that the company’s domestic edge comes into play. “We have know-how in dealing with companies along every step of the oil and gas industry; we can react quickly to demand. We have been working in Mexico for over 60 years and more than 70 percent of the products we sell are manufactured in Mexico City. We have local knowledge, a local factory and a local service. We are tailored to the Mexican market.”
Local production capacities allow the company to work closely with contractors and EPCs. In-house design and engineering during the extensive 12 to 18-month design process is the added value that Crouse-Hinds offers. “We work with our clients from the beginning of the design process; from the conceptual stage onward. This is mainly providing technical support and creating technical designs for customized products,” Vázquez says.
Despite the administration’s suspension of bidding rounds for three years, Vázquez believes that the liberalization of Mexico’s oil and gas industry has created plentiful opportunities. “There is a great deal to be excited about in the short term. All the construction that came about due to the Energy Reform is ongoing.” Similarly, the government’s proposed rehabilitation of PEMEX’s six existing refineries and the new construction at Dos Bocas are welcomed by Crouse-Hinds. Safety will be at the center of these developments. “As a business, we are looking to the future with hope and expectation,” says Vázquez. To meet these future demands, Crouse-Hinds is investing in technology and improving facilities.