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Analysis

Expanding Opportunities for Asset Protection

Wed, 01/22/2014 - 11:45

“In the last ten years, Pemex has really ramped up its activities in pipeline integrity management,” says Lorenzo Martínez Gómez, President of Corrosión y Protección. “Pemex recently introduced internal regulations for these activities based on those of the US Department of Transportation. These regulations include risk assessment methodologies, inspection methodologies, and require operator qualification. A total of 152 tasks, each separated into di†erent groups, have now been internationally certified, across the pipeline system.”

Despite Pemex’s advancement in terms of pipeline integrity management, there are some areas where Martínez Gómez feels the company is lagging behind in terms of protecting its assets. “Although the pipeline system has been corrosion protected for many years, which has been particularly strongly enforced for the last five years, there are many Pemex systems that have not received the same attention. For example, Pemex does not use cathodic protection at its oil storage tanks. Without it, the bottom of a tank will last only two or three years before it needs to be replaced. Cathodic protection can vastly extend the life of these tanks, both above and below ground. Pemex has around 50,000 tanks across the country: if we can convince them to use cathodic protection on this type of infrastructure, it would present an enormous opportunity for us.”

Another area where Martínez Gómez believes that Pemex should be looking to implement cathodic protection at well casings. “Studies have been conducted in both the US and Canada regarding the environmental and business impact of well casing deterioration. These studies all recommended that cathodic protection be applied at well casings in order to combat corrosion and prevent leaks and spills.” Today, cathodic protection is applied at 100% of well casings in Canada, the US, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and Argentina. However, Pemex has yet to be convinced that this should happen in Mexico. “This issue becomes even more pressing when the well casings are exposed to fracking chemicals at unconventional wells, because the corrosion rate increases dramatically,” Martínez Gómez explains. “This is something that Pemex really needs to consider given the country’s shale gas potential.”

As well as looking for opportunities to provide additional services to Pemex, Corrosión y Protección is also looking to diversify its business: in 2012, 60% of the company’s business came from the private sector. For example, one project that the company is working on is a corrosion inhibitor made from Mexican coconuts from Guerrero. The company recently developed a formula that will enable them to produce the inhibitor at scale, and sell it as a commodity in both Mexico and the region.