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Analysis

Matching Mexican People and International Technology

Wed, 01/22/2014 - 11:28

PetroTécnica de México (PTM) has seen marked success as a mediator between PEMEX E&P, technological institutes, and universities in order to build a comprehensive link between industry and academia. The primary idea and main focus behind the creation of this synergy was to foster the advancement of the Mexican oil and gas sector in terms of human talent. Both sides had realized that there was a disparity between the research being done at academic institutions and the actual needs of the oil and gas industry. By instructing universities as to these needs and cultivating professionals armed with the right skills for hydrocarbon exploration and production, PTM was able to provide graduates with the necessary tools and experience to successfully enter the industry. “We saw that PEMEX was relying a lot on foreign companies and workers to meet its geotechnical and geophysical needs. These workers were filling positions that could have easily been filled by Mexican professionals,” states Director General of PTM Emma Porragas Miron. The company began this quest to increase the availability of Mexican professionals qualified to fill PEMEX’s ranks by establishing cooperation agreements with two universities in Campeche, UNACAR (Autonomous University of Carmen) and UTCAM (Technological University of Campeche). The agreements were designed to support graduates from these institutions by putting them in contact with oil and gas experts to guide them through available employment opportunities. Porragas Miron says these agreements have been successful, given the number of students from UNACAR, UTCAM and other institutions affiliated with PTM that have found jobs in the industry. She adds that the aims of the program have also moved on to influence the curriculum of these universities, improving academic quality to help increase the general productivity of students once they enter the workforce.

PTM’s services are focused on training technicians who can provide support for the new technologies and engineering systems that are increasingly being used in the oil and gas industry to generate substantial operational savings. An example of such progress is exemplified by PTM’s collaboration with a group of US companies to develop software that can simulate the behavior of fluids under different conditions, such as in tanks, tubes or compressors. Through this software, technicians can observe the real-time conditions of operations without halting them, providing companies with a technical advantage when partnered with freshly graduated technicians that have mastered their use. Even though training and mediation have been important for PTM’s standing in the Mexican oil and gas landscape, it is not its only line of business. It has also worked with PEMEX, CFE, contractors, and service providers by supplying them with technical support, geotechnical services, and vessel transportation management. It was precisely these business ties that allowed Emma Porragas Miron to observe the missing link between the academic endeavors carried out in universities and the technical duties that industry workers were tasked with. “I executed the first approach based on a mutual need, PEMEX’s need for up-to-date tools and technology and students’ need for an introduction to the realities of their future labor market and the possible applications of their technical knowledge and skills within the Mexican oil and gas industry,” says Porragas Miron.

The firm’s broader activities retain the central focus of information gathering and provision. It has worked in offshore facilities, primarily providing technical assistance for operations such as pipeline installation and the construction of new facilities at the Maritime Terminal in Dos Bocas. Its engineering department develops user databases and provides consulting for PEMEX ranging from revising the design of installations to supervising construction projects. “We help PEMEX to make sure its original construction plans and specifications are being met when projects are being executed,” Porragas Miron states. More recently, PTM has been trying to establish a team dedicated to high-level consulting, formed by an interdisciplinary group of experienced industry professionals from Venezuela, Central America, Colombia, and Brazil as well as PEMEX staff members, all of whom contribute to an experience pool that can be applied to particular problems affecting PEMEX and beyond.

“PTM has proposed new designs and workflows for filling up and discharging tanks in Dos Bocas as well as new equipment and design for distribution terminals in the north of Mexico,” Porragas Miron points out. This line of work harnesses the same logic as PTM’s academic efforts, namely exposing employees to new tools and technologies that PEMEX has not previously made use of. PTM has identified plenty of such opportunities in the engineering and design side of the expansion of PEMEX’s infrastructure, specifically through the construction of new facilities that will optimize the offshore workflow of the Southwest Marine Region. Similarly, an area where Porragas Miron sees a bright future is technology acquisition consulting, which would see PTM help PEMEX decide which new equipment it should use for its infrastructure projects, including pumps, valves, and other similar components. The company also says it could help improve the quality of crude oil as it arrives to onshore facilities by selecting the most suitable equipment to analyze impurities.