Q: How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the company’s operations?
A: The COVID-19 pandemic was difficult but last year was not necessarily bad because it was stable. We are an international company, which benefited Ampelmann. We have offices and equipment all over the world. In countries where the lockdowns and regulations were strict, we were lucky to already be fully established. Nevertheless, it put a lot of stress on the team, though business-wise it was very stable.
Q: How have recent government policies aiming to foster energy sovereignty and reform labor activities affected Ampelmann?
A: Ampelmann is not fully established in Mexico yet and has not had the required continuation of business to justify such a move. Nevertheless, the company is hoping to change that and pick up more projects as greater foreign investment comes to Mexico. The government’s policy direction has not affected us much. We are following some of the labor laws that are changing how offshore crews are contracted, which has been the biggest issue that we have looked at for Mexico. Our crew is foreign for the moment. This can affect these labor issues in Mexico, as we know regulations are very strict in the country. Ampelmann is examining its options. If the company were to fully establish in Mexico, the changing regulations would have more of an impact on our operations.
Q: What opportunities do you see in the growing deepwater niche in Mexico and how will you leverage your relationship with key customers to enhance your position in this industry?
A: Deepwater development in Mexico is exciting because it attracts foreign operators to the country. In Mexico, Ampelmann has successfully worked on projects for Eni through different channels. Seeing the development in the country with Shell and other operators, this will open up new opportunities. Tapping into this possibility is what it is going to take for a company as small as ours to establish completely in Mexico. It would allow us to work continuously. Right now, we are averaging one project a year, which takes between 60 to 100 days. If we could double that, we could justify having a larger presence in the country.
Q: What advantages can shallow water operations gain from Ampelmann’s Walk to Work systems and how have they helped to boost safety standards in the industry?
A: Amplemann specializes in Walk to Work systems that help transfer people and cargo safely to platforms or to any offshore structure coming off a boat. We basically sell safety: our top priority is to bring people home securely. The Walk to Work equipment is based on a safe transfer solution and it is an industry-proven technology. The concept is accepted everywhere in the world as one of the safest ways to transfer personnel. If more companies were to use it in shallow water or deepwater environments, the better it would be for the industry. Walk to Work is a boon for safety and workability, which leads to a cost benefit for a project’s longer-term operation.
Q: Why are some companies reluctant to use this technology?
A: If you are accustomed to operating in a certain way and we are introducing a change, there is always some reluctance. However, oil and gas is a global business and there is always somebody in a major company that is familiar with the technology. After all, Walk to Work has been around for over 10 years, operating safely and efficiently. In Mexico, Ampelmann has consistently worked on smaller projects, so the technology would not be a first here either. Nevertheless, there is always an initial hurdle to cross when trying to get people to think in a different way or to make them see the big picture. There is more up-front cost but you are going to save not just in terms of safety but in the project’s overall time factor. Once companies understand this, they will choose Walk to Work.
We are an engineering company, so we also offer a great deal of support to our clients. The company can help them visualize how the solution will pan out. Ampelmann carries out a workability report, which features a schedule and budget. This allows operators to make an efficient business decision.
Q: How does the company’s approach to innovation drive the creation of new solutions for the oil and gas industry?
A: Ampelmann is an innovation-driven company. It is always creating new equipment and solutions for the market. Very recently, it launched the first fully electric motion-compensated gangway, called E-type, which can transfer up to 5 tons of cargo. Ampelmann’s innovation is driven by its clients’ needs. The company has in-house engineers who produce new systems and solutions for the market and reinforce innovation as one of our core values as a company.
Q: What are the company’s main objectives for 2022?
A: The company is active in bidding rounds and submitting proposals in Mexico. We also foresee a great deal of maintenance work for existing facilities that IOCs have either developed or acquired from PEMEX. Here, we can provide a Walk to Work system that can increase the project’s workability and reduce the overall wrench time. We also see potential to commission new offshore assets from IOCs later in 2022. The company sees Mexico as a developing market. Moving up from our average of one project a year in Mexico, the company now aims to double its workload.