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Analysis

Focus on Non-Destructive Testing and Engineering

Wed, 01/22/2014 - 16:38

Víctor Manuel Rodríguez Chiquito used to work for PEMEX. He must have made the right impression as PEMEX sent him to Aberdeen, Scotland for a training course. Little did the Mexican oil company know that this visit would inspire Rodríguez Chiquito to start his own business after retiring from PEMEX. 13 years ago, he created RICCSSA to provide specialized training courses for PEMEX staff. The company drew further from PEMEX’s talent pool as it poached a number of former employees to people its ranks. “I spotted this opportunity during the training course in Aberdeen five years before retiring from PEMEX,” says Rodríguez Chiquito. Today, RICCSSA provides consulting services for various projects in the Marine and South regions but this is no longer its principal activity. The company soon began working on specific technological and development projects. Rodríguez Chiquito’s team made a switch to engineering services and soon after incorporated non-destructive testing (NDT) as its main business line. It entered the NDT business when it was hired to solve storage tank issues at Puerto Dos Bocas in Tabasco, where the company inspected about 60% of the existing facilities. Combining its engineering pool and sector expertise, RICCSSA recently began developing metalmechanical facilities in Poza Rica in order to work on natural gas gauging projects throughout Veracruz and Burgos. Rodríguez Chiquito believes the mechanical business line is growing at a significant rate, thus he is preparing his company to secure similar opportunities in the North Region, a shift that he believes will happen in 2015.

He explains that PEMEX standards dictate that facilities must be assessed every three to five years, a policy that has allowed his company to flourish. Today, NDT amounts to 60% of RICCSSA’s activities, while as-built engineering comprises 30% and the remaining 10% is consulting services. As a medium-sized company, RICCSSA must focus on seizing the best opportunities available, which means it cannot give equal attention to its three main areas of expertise simultaneously. Instead, RICCSSA zeroes in on those projects that hold the most potential. It is not uncommon for Rodríguez Chiquito to see competitors go bankrupt because they try to work on many projects in different areas at once. “Risk, profit, and other factors must be analyzed to decide what projects are the most feasible and beneficial for us,” he explains. “We strive to concentrate our activities in one area to deliver the best results possible, and to keep introducing relevant new technologies. Considering that new players will be coming into the Mexican market, new technology will make its way into the Mexican oil and gas industry much faster than before. RICCSSA is therefore planning to partner with worldclass companies that have cutting-edge technologies,” says Rodríguez Chiquito. Just as bigger companies require RICCSA’s services to provide integrated solutions, the company follows the same trend by seeking smaller firms to tailor the appropriate services for clients.

Rodríguez Chiquito sees the challenges associated with unconventional resources as a future opportunity. “We can benefit from our offices in Monterrey to develop projects in unconventional resources although it is too soon for any development to occur. We are very interested in shale gas, but I think projects will only begin in about four years,” he says. In the meantime, he believes that his firm will have to evolve in the way it presents its services while still maintaining competitive prices in order to stay afloat. Having PEMEX as its main client has helped RICCSSA position itself as a reliable player, and Rodríguez Chiquito believes that PEMEX will anchor the company’s activities for the next five years at least. After that time, RICCSSA is gunning for a balance of 40% of its projects being dedicated to PEMEX and 60% to the private sector.