Marco Tulio Hernandez
Grupo Herce Ingenieria
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New Approaches to Process Engineering

Tue, 01/21/2020 - 13:11

Q: What led to the creation of Grupo Herce Ingeniería?

A: For some time, we have been watching the changes in PEMEX’s internal politics and Mexico’s oil and gas industry. Throughout the hydrocarbons value chain, we have identified opportunity areas where consulting and engineering services were needed to provide the innovation and creative solutions necessary to adapt the industry to the new standards. Both PEMEX and private operators were struggling to redesign their engineering processes and adapt them to contemporary standards and industry circumstances. From water separation to commodity transportation and management, along with final resource quality and composition at the point-of-sale (POS), we identified inefficiencies and discrepancies that needed to be addressed for a number of reasons, among them the correct fulfillment of contractual obligations regarding the API quality of the product being output. This applies to the sweetening and dehydration processes for gas as well, perhaps even more so because the final output of dry natural gas not only enters a market for industrial players, but also for the general public. Other industries have tried to introduce their own separation processes and technologies into the oil and gas sector, but PEMEX has been unsuccessful in implementing them. Grupo Herce Ingeniería seeks to modernize and optimize these processes so the industry’s goals of efficiency and increased productivity can be achieved.

Q: In which ways have you approached these issues?

A: First at all, we must tackle the need to redesign these processes so they can adapt to newer production volumes. The separation battery sites happen to be oversized for the current decreased levels of production. Even if production is increased to the previous levels, at some point in the future, these sites will still be needing to be optimize for current production levels to avoid massive inefficiencies. PEMEX already has ongoing projects that explore new ways to increase the overall quality of the product reaching POS.

In this sense, current battery sites are also outdated and in urgent need of redesign. To account for all these factors, we have developed our own specialized software that can simulate and reproduce the operational conditions of each field and upstream asset to determine which it’s the best approach to the optimization of its processes.

One of our services which comes prominently into play here is compositional analysis, so as an engineer we can be applied as quickly as possible to oil and gas reaching POS. It is important to understand the historical context here. Recently, PEMEX only measured resources reaching POS in volumetric terms. New regulations overseen and enforced by CNH create the need for compositional analysis to accurately measure API quality, water content and sulfur content for oil, along with calorific value, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and sulfhydric acid content for gas. We use our software to simulate the ways in which quality and composition of the resources varies from its extraction point to POS, so it can trace how it behaves thermodynamically as it moves through and its influenced by existing processing instruments and technologies. Later, we use this information to design the best way to optimize these processes.

Q: How have you been working with PEMEX to implement this type of technological investment into your agenda?

A: We have developed the APROHA system (Hydrocarbons Production Administrator) in collaboration with PEMEX. Through our software solutions were coordinated with PEMEX’s available information and internal structure to provide a tool that helps them identify the quality and nature of resources being extracted and processed. We achieve this through back allocation calculations that generate increasingly accurate results as data is added into the models of simulations. The data generated by these tools is indispensable not only for PEMEX, but also for regulators. The software is programmed to generate daily, weekly and monthly reports that are sent automatically to public institutions like CNH. These tools cannot be static. They must be updated constantly to reflect the rapidly changing operational conditions of each asset, worksite and facility. Only through this kind of monitoring and control can processes be optimized and modernized.


Grupo Herce Ingeniería is a technology firm from Tabasco. Its services include installation of measurement and control systems, along with process engineering analysis and specialized technical studies.