How The Pandemic Contributed to Mexico’s Offshore FutureBy Pedro Alcalá | Wed, 06/23/2021 - 14:24
Q: What have been the most important changes in your outlook regarding Mexico’s offshore services and logistics sector as a result of the pandemic?
A: Fortunately, we have been able to reinitiate many projects that were directly affected by eight months of operational shutdowns as a result of the pandemic. Our agenda for 2021 turned out to look strikingly similar to our agenda for 2020. This experience has definitely strengthened us and the sector. It has forced the sector to take a more serious approach to online tools of promotion and development, particularly social media. In a sense, one could say the sector has been rejuvenated by the pandemic. Grupo Roales now manages a sizable social media presence and is able to interact with its network of clients and suppliers by engaging with and participating in digital spaces. All of this has created new incentives for the reactivation of activities in the sector, which in turn makes our outlook more positive. The offshore sector has been notorious for its slow adoption of online engagement, relying more on local networks and in person interactions limited to crucial industry locales such as ports and port cities, so this is one of the more important paradigm shifts that the pandemic brought about for our sector.
The negative impact of the pandemic on the sector is undeniable, despite the fact that many offshore projects were thankfully classified as essential economic activities by the government and allowed to continue without interruption. But many companies were still forced to close while others were forced to suspend certain business lines. This, unfortunately, has created a cycle of misinformation in the sector because the information that is available regarding which suppliers and service providers are still in business is incomplete and not so easy to find. We are now forced to research if certain companies are still in business and ready to take on new contracts and projects. This is why the digital transformation is so essential. By relying more on online promotion, offshore sector players like us and our potential clients, partners and suppliers can open channels of communication that are more reliable and constant.
Q: What other concrete actions have you taken to accelerate your own digital transformation process?
A: Before the pandemic began, we had digitalized all of our internal communications along with our safety and security systems. All digital implementations, however, need to be accompanied by training programs. As a company involved in the HR side of offshore operations, we have direct experiences in this, and so we and our clients needed to commit to this as well. Training is necessary to change the organizational culture of companies and projects. The sector has an older and aging workforce that can be reticent to the implementation of digital processes, so that has to be addressed first. Then, training is needed to make sure that your employees can handle whatever digital platform you use with agility, so that time is not being lost unnecessarily on these learning curves. Your employees must also learn that communications will now be recorded or digitally stored and reviewed as data. Sanctions for the improper use of digital tools also need to be implemented, but it is unfair to do this if you are not absolutely sure that your training is effective.
Q: Has PEMEX’s maintenance contracts increased work volumes?
A: 2021 has not yet seen that returning volume of work that I expected. However, that does not mean that we will not see more work between now and the end of the year. I want to add that Mexico and PEMEX will now have a need for very specialized maintenance contractors, many of which will have to be foreign. These are companies that can do one year’s worth of maintenance in six months. As PEMEX continues to delay its issuing of new maintenance contracts, the need for maintenance in its aging offshore infrastructure will increase on a daily basis. We have been improving our work methodologies and technological know-how so that we can be a specialized contractor once the NOC requires our services.
Grupo Roales is a regional leader in technical and corporate staffing as well as supply-chain services. Outsourcing, project management consulting and offshore catering are among its services.