Lennart Rietveld
Mexico Director
WTS Energy
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View from the Top

Mastering Local Content Development

By Pedro Alcalá | Mon, 03/08/2021 - 10:30

Q: How would you describe your market strategy for the Mexican energy industry?

A: WTS was initially started in the Netherlands in 2000 by people from Schlumberger who supported the oil and gas sector through manpower and recruitment services. WTS became interested in opening an office in Mexico in 2013 with the enactment of the Energy Reform. We understood that Mexico was not like any other country and that we needed people on the ground with localized expertise. We opened the office in Mexico City in August 2016. We immediately sought a contract with one of the private operators for an onshore drilling campaign. Our market entry strategy focused on contacting all the new operators that had an investment and drilling obligation in Mexico, particularly regarding their exploration drilling campaigns. We have been able to service both national and international companies, employing international personnel and local content. Our experts are drilling engineers, drilling supervisors, drilling superintendents and HSE staff for both onshore and offshore operations. We certainly face complexities in uncertain labor markets due to unknown political strategies but we continue to see a great deal of potential in Mexico.

Q: How deep is the talent pool for Mexican exploration professionals?

A: I think in general this represents a big area of opportunity. Luckily, we have seen that private operators are interested in hiring local content. For many years, the labor market was limited because it was run by the state. More specifically, it was defined by PEMEX, which offered great benefits and early retirement to its employees. In other words, labor mobility and availability were limited by PEMEX’s hiring process and conditions. However, IOCs have been very interested in developing local content. For example, one company needed professionals for a 2019-2020 exploration campaign. When the campaign began, it was run almost exclusively by expats. We began replacing people who left the project with Mexican citizens, especially in the HSE and waste management areas. The client was extremely happy with them and those Mexican workers are now considered and favored when the time comes for a subsequent campaign. In our view, the development of local content must be parallel to the growth and development of private operators and their activities in the industry. In the specific project mentioned above we also made sure to provide the same salary levels for locals as we did for expats, which makes all of these processes rewarding for local workers.

Q: How have you been addressing the generational gap in Mexico’s oil and gas workforce?

A:  We have established a type of buddy system so that senior expats who bring a great deal of knowledge to any worksite can be connected with younger engineers working on the project. We want to ensure an effective transfer of knowledge. We create that program for some of our clients. Knowledge transfer in theory is very simple but in practice there never seems to be enough time for it, especially when you do not define what it is exactly that you want to learn. This is especially true for oil and gas, when no amount of education or schooling can teach you things that only work experience can give you, especially when it comes to situations that call for faster response times.   

 

WTS Energy provides solutions for asset management, technical assistance, manpower and recruitment needs. It delivers services to the major energy industry players and actively supports the energy transition.

Pedro Alcalá Pedro Alcalá Journalist and Industry Analyst