Monitoring Hydrocarbons across the Petroleum Value ChainWed, 01/22/2014 - 16:29
A few years ago, Telvent was an information technology and industrial automation company that managed a fair share of the SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems in Mexico, including some of the IT control and monitoring systems for PEMEX. In 2011, the company was acquired by Schneider Electric, boosting the French electricity distribution and automation management company in Mexico. “Schneider Electric was oriented towards manufacturing products and components for energy management, while Telvent was focused on the integration of solutions with hefty software components,” explains Luis Rancé, Senior Director of Institutional Affairs of Schneider Electric. “Telvent’s culture was to integrate solutions by acquiring third-party equipment and adding our software solutions to it under a problem-solving focus.” The most significant risk that Telvent assumed when integrating its solutions had to do with the use of third party equipment and products, since the company had no control over developing its own components. “Both companies really complemented each other in this sense, adding strength to the name and position of Schneider Electric in Mexico,” Rancé claims.
Three years have gone by, and Rancé reflects on the benefits that the acquisition has yielded for Schneider Electric. “Our sales horizon has grown significantly, giving us more opportunities. We are now offering solutions that we could not provide before, given Schneider Electric’s larger scope and its inclusion of Telvent’s portfolio and integration capabilities,” he remarks. However, the transition has not been all smooth. “At the top levels of the corporation, the transformation from one company to other has gone fairly swiftly. But at the lower levels, people are still focusing on performing for the company they used to work for, and not on delivering for the company as a whole.” While Rancé admits the integration has not been as easy as expected, he is confident the company’s corporate values and philosophy will solve these issues.
Perhaps more importantly, Rancé sees that Telvent’s clients have reacted well to the acquisition, trusting the company even more than before, given its shelter under the known umbrella of Schneider Electric. “We have good relationships with many private companies all over the world. Working with them, under corporate, organized, and transparent rules just adds to our business,” he explains. Moving away from private companies, PEMEX is expected to add a corporate governance structure to its organization, as well as centralized procurement capabilities, simplifying the negotiations with service providers such as Schneider Electric. This is an opportunity the firm is already gearing up to capitalize upon. “My position was created to talk to PEMEX executives, and then go down the corporate ladder to every area to convey the benefits of our services.” This support on the operational field is what Telvent adds to the equation, comments Rancé.
Given Schneider Electric’s track record in control and monitoring solutions for pipelines, the door is wide open for the company to ramp up its business in Mexico. The fact that private companies are going to be even more involved in the development of the hydrocarbon transportation system will just multiply the possibilities for Schneider Electric to provide its SCADA knowhow. “A few years back, Mexico had absolutely no experience or knowledge of how to manage its pipeline system. We have gone from applying rudimentary techniques to a more modern approach to hydrocarbon transportation monitoring solutions,” Rancé alleges. “It is a process and it is still in motion, but so far, the country’s natural gas network is more modern and optimized than just a few years ago. Once the control center for natural gas is finished, we will be able to better monitor the flow of this hydrocarbon throughout the value chain.”
The company has already started developing a SCADA system for PEMEX E&P. “Our technology and capabilities allow us to monitor the hydrocarbon throughout all the supply chain: from the moment it leaves the well until it arrives to pump stations,” claims Rancé. “We also have a project to monitor terminal storage plants; we are just waiting for PEMEX to award us the 70 plants that are missing in a direct assignment.” This project involves the total automation of each terminal, covering the whole operation from the arrival of the hydrocarbon to storage tanks being filled, tankers taking it away, and the product being sold. “It is all part of what PEMEX has called ‘one SCADA’ to integrate all the information,” describes Rancé. Integrating the monitoring capability for PEMEX’s whole operation is a truly daunting challenge, but as Rancé puts it, “it is just a matter of coordinating efforts and for this to happen, and we are pushing hard to achieve this for PEMEX.”