Leveraging a Wealth of Chemical ExperienceWed, 01/22/2014 - 12:24
Regina Oliveira, Commercial Director of Dow Oil & Gas Latin America, is unfazed by declining production levels in Mexico. She is confident that the tendency will change and that investments will allow the country to tap deepwater and shale gas reservoirs. Foreseeing large amounts of capital flowing into Mexico in the future, Dow Oil & Gas is increasing its resources and personnel in the country to make sure all bases are covered for it to expand its portfolio. “We want the industry to feel our presence and be acquainted with our work,” says Oliveira.
Predicting the future industry needs is a key cog in Dow Oil & Gas’s machinery. To ensure its product line is well tailored to the Mexican market, it is remaining close to top service firms so as to anticipate what technologies they will invest in to improve their productivity. The scope of the Dow group is also brought to bear on its product portfolio, through the multidisciplinary approach it takes to its operations. The firm has over 5,000 product lines, but Oliveira explains it is not a simple matter of fitting each product line into a specific sector. Dow Oil & Gas leverages its wealth of experience to design solutions for each industry, including oil and gas. “We call this cross-business,” says Oliveira. “We analyze our product catalogue to find common areas between industries on a global level. Sometimes, we blend products to come up with new solutions that are promptly offered to a client after their potential has been assessed.” But with such a wide-ranging portfolio, Dow Oil & Gas has to do a fair amount of legwork in getting clients to switch to its latest products. The company has just launched a new product line of water clarifiers and demulsifiers that improve production levels. The new product line comes with a catch, as it requires customers to think differently about how the demulsification process is executed. “Usually, a proper and specific mix formulation of bases and additives is needed to achieve good results. The new product line simplifies this formulation process but also makes it quite different,” Oliveira says. “Each crude oil is different and requires a different formulation process. Clients need to test it in all different types of crudes to see its benefits.” Dow Oil & Gas is still presenting oil service companies with the benefits of its new demulsifying technology, explaining its characteristics to operators in Mexico and other Latin American countries. Oliveira admits this has been a lengthy process, but she expresses confidence in the benefits this technology can bring to the Mexican upstream sector. Dow Oil & Gas has also been successful in the Brazilian deepwater sector developing products for subsea pipeline insulation based on polyurethane technology. Oliveira believes that there will be a future need for this technology in Mexico’s deepwater activities. In addition to demulsifiers, Dow Oil & Gas is currently testing other EOR technologies, including thermal recovery, gas and CO2 injection, polymer flooding, and surfactants. The two latter categories are a particular priority, despite polymer flooding being at a more advanced stage of development than surfactants. “These chemical solutions will best serve the Latin American market. Similar technologies are already in use, but through our development process and by adding molecules and surfactants to the polymers, these technologies become more effective,” comments Oliveira. The idea behind the polymer flooding solution is to extract more original oil from supposedly depleted reservoirs. Oliveira estimates that by extracting this oil, without the need to drill new wells, Mexico could increase its annual production by 10%. For more of its technology to hit the market, Dow Oil & Gas is waiting for new projects to be tendered. However, Oliveira estimates that the company will have to wait a couple of years for enough new tenders to be awarded so that its products can be put to use on the desired scale.
Customer expansion is also on Oliveira’s mind. For now, Dow Oil & Gas only supplies directly to operators in the downstream sector, with PEMEX having been its exclusive target. The Energy Reform will certainly affect Dow Oil & Gas’ downstream operations in Mexico. The company is confident its brand name will see it succeed, but logistics are a concern that must be addressed. “We need to be able to provide enough products at competitive prices to refineries and gas processing plants. We have supply lines built around distributors in the US. If these prove to be insufficient, we would have to plan the creation of a local structure that can provide the appropriate amount of commodities and specialities depending on the size of the plant in question,” explains Oliveira.