Mike Bethea
Offshore Technical Compliance (OTC)
View from the Top

Experience in US Waters Translates to Mexican Gulf

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 14:12

Q: How is OTC applying its experience on the US side of the Gulf to Mexico?

A: OTC is a full-service offshore oil and gas regulatory compliance company. On April 1, we acquired Northwest Technical Solutions (NWTS), which further enhances our scope. Our services include compliance inspection, compliance training and with NWTS, well control verification for compliance as well as digital pressure testing. These areas translate well from US waters to the Mexican side of the Gulf, and anywhere in the world for that matter.

Many operators maintain internal policies that require thirdparty verification regardless of where they are operating, particularly in deepwater operations. OTC’s digital pressuretesting service is applicable to other areas and has really taken off in the Gulf of Mexico and US waters. The reason, partially, is because of rule changes regarding well control but prior to that it had already become popular due to the significant time savings associated with the high-pressure blowout preventer (BOP) test. Using digital pressure testing, our system can use its predictive algorithm to predict when the required five minutes to flatline will be reached. We can save as much as 50 percent in time spent on BOP testing and that translates into hundreds of thousands of dollars in rig-time savings.

Q: In Mexico, where do you see the best opportunities, given the recent deepwater rounds?

A: Prior to the new well control rule, our primary focus was deepwater. But after the well control rule was introduced, all the shelf operators have turned to digital pressure-testing techniques. Time savings are still significant, somewhere between 30 to 40 percent, and we can map when the digital pressure testing is proving to be a good resource for operators.

We are trying to figure out what the regulatory landscape in Mexico will be like. We have done a fair amount of international work representing the interests of various countries. For example, in Angola, we were basically a thirdparty regulatory representative. We also issue engineerstamped approvals for permit modification. The company actually began with a handful of former inspectors carrying out market inspections. We are as skilled if not more skilled than regulators in reviewing or auditing operations.

Q: What challenges do you foresee in complying with standards for the new operators in Mexico?

A: We are still in the process of trying to understand exactly how Mexico will implement, regulate and enforce its standards and regulations. Our understanding is that the authorities are trying to adopt best practices from other jurisdictions. We get the impression that Mexico may not be as restrictive as some other places because some of the restrictions are too onerous. Mexico is taking the right approach in wanting to come up with sensible and practical regulation that encourages exploration and production but also protects people and the environment. We want to be that link for our customers as they expand into Mexican waters. OTC can help them interpret the regulations and ensure they are in compliance.

Q: How do you go above and beyond integrated solutions to be a part of your clients’ long-term vision?

A: We can combine data that we collect through our combined inspections, our verification of compliance work and through our digital pressure-testing service and analyze that data for our clients. For instance, in regulatory compliance, we can help our customers by detecting the same potential noncompliance occurring in multiple locations, for which we can then carry out training. If we see trends in the BOP testing, we can figure out whether excessive time taken is an indication of poor communication or whether it could be a sign of the variables in play, like water depth or the type of fluid being used for testing. Because we are providing all these services and collecting all this data in one location without using three different vendors, we can truly help our customers become more efficient and safer.