International-level Inspection Direct to the Mexican MarketBy Peter Appleby | Tue, 08/18/2020 - 13:45
Q: How has Control Union expanded its footprint in Mexico since arriving to the market?
A: Control Union entrance into the Mexican market was a result of the Energy Reform and the arrival of investment through IOCs. As a service company providing all types of inspections to operators, the need to be in Mexico was clear. PEMEX did not previously work to the international or UK standards that we offer but the arrival of IOCs opened the market to our high-end inspection service, which became our niche.
We are now working with both national and international companies, including large drilling companies like COSL. Another client is Grupo R, which is working for Shell. Shell requested that Grupo R have its cranes, helideck and various other infrastructure inspected by a third-party company to ensure they met international standards. We stepped in. The majority of our services relate to offshore equipment like cranes, transfer baskets, helidecks, Gauge calibration and all lifting equipment. Control Union carries out non-destructive testing (NDT) and other inspection services.
Control Union is approved by DNV-GL, ABS, LEEA, ISO and OHSAS, among others to perform surveys and inspections. We carry out all of our tests under these regulations. Our added value is the integrated IT systems into which we input data and results from surveys that enable our clients to have their certificates saved on one platform.
We provide comprehensive inspection services and our clients need only make one phone call for a team to arrive to their offshore facility. Control Union can cover a vast range of inspection services that companies comply with on an annual or six-month basis depending on the service. We speak their language, have likely provided them with services in other markets, and can help them comply with their local content requirements. With Control Union, clients receive the same quality service here in Mexico that they would receive if they were in the North Sea.
Q: How does Control Union leverage its international experience with clients in Mexico?
A: Our international experience is frequently how we sell our services in Mexico. Most operators here already know the quality we provide and the cost of our services. Many of our inspectors are from abroad because we are still fairly new to the Mexican market and the training takes time. These inspectors have likely worked with the client in other parts of the world and understand the company. The past experience our personnel have with the client company eases the working process and helps make it more efficient.
Q: How is Control Union adapting its business services to face the crisis?
A: In 2020 Control Union is celebrating its 100th anniversary. During these 100 years of history, we have grown and developed because of our relationships with our clients. We see ourselves as business partners rather than working as clients and providers. We have experienced crisis at several points in our existence, like when prices dropped dramatically in 2008-2009. We have learned from those experiences and we know it is essential we are there for our clients and make an effort in cost-efficiency. This can be done by using our multi skilled team that reduce mobilizations and therefor dropping travel expenses. We do much more than simply reduce our prices; we offer tailor made solutions.
Q: How does Control Union enhance the skill of its Mexican workforce?
A: We are investing in people. As a service company, human capital is our asset. When we opened in Mexico around a year ago, the first thing we did was to hire two Mexican structural engineers. We are investing heavily in their training, including trips abroad to Houston and Trinidad. Every time one of our workers from abroad arrives to Mexico to carry out a survey, both engineers accompany them. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has put the brakes on our initial plan to have a fully Mexican team by the end of 2020. Because of the virus, we have had to curtail the movement of personnel between countries for now.
Q: How will COVID-19 propel changes in the inspection sector?
A: Control Union is in the process of switching our live training to online and virtual training. We are also investing in Microsoft HoloLens glasses, a form of mixed-reality technology, which allows our personnel to share what they are seeing with remote locations. The HoloLens also include 3D images of pieces and tools, which can be manipulated by the user. These sorts of technologies mean that we can reduce the number of personnel sent to offshore platforms and carry out inspections or training remotely, in real time. With these technologies, even the crew of the platform could check a structure with our guidance from a remote position. This also helps to reduce costs.
We are making this investment in partnership with International Test Solutions, another of our companies, and we believe this technology will have incredible impact in the future. The market is changing and so must our services.
Q: Considering the pandemic, what are Control Union’s goals over the next 24 months?
A: Our main goal would be to build a fully Mexican team here in Mexico. This will hopefully happen in a year from now because Control Union considers Mexico among its priority markets. Another goal is to make the services we are offering to international companies on other markets more frequently available in Mexico too. We hope that in the future the international standards we bring to Mexico will be the norm and part and parcel of working here. I believe that in two to three years, we will be able to say our standards are the country’s standards and that Control Union is considered by IOCs and the country’s NOC as a local partner that brings its international knowledge to the fore. Control Union is dedicated to Mexico and intends to be in the market for the long term.
Control Union is a Dutch inspection and certification company with over 100 years in existence. The company has over 20 years’ experience working in the oil and gas sector and offers its services in markets around the world