Gerardo Sánchez
President and Director General
Naviera Bourbon Tamaulipas
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View from the Top

New Opportunities on the Maritime Horizon

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 00:08

Q: What opportunities will the opening of the oil and gas market create for Mexico’s maritime industry?

A: We expect many opportunities as new companies enter Mexico, whether they are winners of blocks in the licensing rounds or new PEMEX partners through Trion’s farm-out.

We see great potential for Naviera Bourbon Tamaulipas (NBT) to do business with the new contractors and subcontractors coming to Mexico for deepwater exploration. Importantly, we expect oil prices to recover by the time these opportunities arrive and we have ample experience in all the services involved in deepwater drilling.

We recently completed an anchor deployment for a semi- submersible drilling platform to a depth of approximately 1,800m using one of our tugboats, setting a new record in Mexico. We started doing these operations in Lankahuasa, southeast of Tuxpan, and in the Lakach field. We have experience supplying boats for these types of services, always with a high level of performance. Because of the cost of drilling in deepwater, drilling companies are more demanding in terms of performance and quality. Any problem in the logistics chain could have significant financial implications for a high-budget project. As a service provider, we are aware of these factors and manage quality accordingly.

Q: What projects are you working on that will help NBT seize the coming opportunities?

A: We are building a new port, called Puerto Matamoros, in Mexican territory just south of Brownsville, Texas. It is being built as close as possible to the Perdido area 130 nautical miles from the coast. The existing base for Perdido logistics is in Tampico but Matamoros is twice as close. This increased proximity to Perdido is beneficial for any company because it will save fuel and time and ensure a higher level of safety if there is an accident. Tampico is also a good option as a base for offshore operations because there are other unexplored deepwater fields east of the area, which officials say hold significant reserves.

All contenders will compete on an equal playing field, with the same information available and the same contractual terms. We expect to see offshore operations in Tampico and Altamira in no more than four years. NBT operates all over Mexico, with bases in Tuxpan, Tampico, Ciudad del Carmen and Dos Bocas. Instead of expanding, we are focusing on the maintenance of our existing fleet and on maintaining 221 financial health. These two conditions are the foundation for capitalizing on future opportunities when they come. These difficult times call for joint ventures and partnerships. Our French partner, Bourbon, is productive and financially healthy.

Q: NBT has a long history in Mexico. How does it remain competitive?

A: To remain competitive we need to be completely focused on quality standards and safety. That involves being efficient, carrying out maintenance work and training personnel. The industry has recently faced difficult times especially in terms of human resources because of the need to suspend work on unprofitable contracts and reduce costs.

The key to remaining competitive in the market is vessel maintenance. Even if the vessel is not active in a project, having personnel aboard is vital for its survival. Our fleet is brand new, so we must preserve the quality of our computer systems. Usually we have 10 to 12 days between commissions to prepare the boat for a new project.

Q: Do you think enough companies are providing marine services for new projects?

A: Yes, there are enough companies providing marine services but they do not cover all aspects. For example, geophysical exploration vessels are not available in Mexico but we have supply vessels and anchor handlers, which are sometimes required to transport jack-ups. Our Tamaulipas fleet is on average 6.5 years old and almost all those vessels are equipped with dynamic positioning (DP2) technology, whereas our smaller crew vessels are controlled conventionally.