In industries such as oil and gas, where risk is omnipresent, investment in safety cannot be underestimated. Last year was challenging for PEMEX in terms of accidents, resulting in casualties and financial losses, but also tarnishing its reputation. Víctor Clavel, Director of Sales and Service at Dräger Safety, believes negligence is the main cause of incidents. Platforms have a wide range of safety devices that are designed to help prevent accidents, but when these fail, it is important to identify the underlying cause.
Not having the adequate equipment or a lack of maintenance may not provoke fires but could delay the response. Clavel believes that PEMEX should focus on increasing safety education, training, and drills, even if this interrupts production. “Daily safety checks can quickly become monotonous and be overlooked, but they are crucial,” he urges. “Workers must understand the importance of compliance with rules and regulations.” Although Dräger does not sell directly to the State enterprise, its activities often involve overseeing PEMEX's projects and helping reinforce safety, as well as providing support for its training centers.
In addition to maintaining its long-standing relationship with PEMEX, Dräger also aims to take advantage of the market’s opening to private investment. “We are preparing the industry for the higher standards that will be introduced by international companies through ‘The Academy’ division, where our employees are informing refineries across the country of our standards, allowing them to reach higher levels of safety and efficiency,” Clavel asserts
Although Clavel admits that Dräger products may not be the cheapest option on the market, he argues that the company differentiates itself from competitors through added value, which comes in the form of reliability, German quality, and excellent services, outweighing the initial investment requirement. “Clients will find a longterm benefit in Dräger’s durable offerings, which require less investment in maintenance over the years. Our equipment can last up to 15 years in good condition, and PEMEX has been using certain pieces for over ten years,” Clavel conveys. In addition to being a leading supplier of infrared and video-suited equipment, Dräger also offers innovative products, developed and improved by its engineering division that works toward making equipment lighter, more comfortable, and ergonomic. “We also drive innovation by acquiring leading companies, such as the Norwegian firm, GasSecure, which develops wireless technology for fixed detection equipment,” says Clavel. This product is particularly advantageous on platforms, as it reduces the possibility of accidents generated by cable sparks. Being familiar with its client base, the company pitches to firms’ technical areas and users first, allowing them to test products directly, and it is this approach that allowed Dräger to sign a contract with PEMEX for certain equipment.
Clavel believes it is Dräger’s focus on quality that allows it to grow in the market, despite the existence of significant challenges. “In 2015, the challenges facing PEMEX left the company with a US$2.4million deficit, due to the lack of activities with the NOC, but this expected loss was offset by a contract worth that same amount with Vale for H2CS. Last year involved a number of platform accidents, which led companies to reconsider their budget allocation for safety.” Despite the challenges brought by the industrywide budget cuts in response to falling oil prices, Clavel is positive the market will return to normal, and Dräger will continue to invest, although more prudently. “Our plan to open a new service center in Ciudad del Carmen in 2016 to support PEMEX and its contractors will be carried out, but the center’s size has been reduced to adapt to our new budget,” he says.
The company also plans on opening service centers in Villahermosa and two in the north in order to provide services for the refining and mining sectors. In spite of the challenging operating environment, Clavel feels that it is important for Dräger to continue investing and being available for its clients.