Horacio Fájer
Director General
View from the Top

Offshore Fire Safety

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 15:18

Q: In the offshore oil and gas industry, what do you think is most important, to have a culture of safety or to create the right incentives for companies to comply?

A: This is a very risky industry, and I honestly cannot imagine that a company involved in this industry would not take the safety factor seriously. The first incentive is always self-driven. The oil and gas industry must be conscious of the risks that it takes – many of the accidents that happen in Mexico and around the world in the sector are completely preventable. Anyone who works in this industry, and even those that provide safety equipment and services to the sector, should remember at all times that their primary goal should be to prevent accidents.

A good example of what can happen when safety is not considered as a priority took place in Mexico a few years ago, when a habitation platform arrived from abroad and the instrumentation for fire protection was not in compliance with Pemex’s internal rules. The system should have been installed properly before it was delivered, but it was not, and the result was that Pemex had to pay twice for the same system.

Around 1.3% of the total investment in an offshore production asset will be for fire protection. Many EPC companies consider this to be an area where they can make savings on a project. We often find, when providing maintenance services on an asset, that fire safety installations are not up to standard. In such a high-risk industry, you cannot afford to cut corners on fire safety.

Q: How could you disrupt the Mexican fire safety market to raise performance standards?

A: Mexico is relatively unregulated in terms of fire safety. For example, Kidde has estimated the Mexican fire extinguisher market to be worth US$200 million. A fully regulated market would be worth twice as much. However, the market as it stands is not properly regulated, and one of the side effects of this is the existence of faulty and counterfeit products. In a test we did at our Victoria facility, nine fire extinguishers out of ten from the stores of one of Mexico’s largest retailers did not work.

Q: How much of Kidde’s technology is sourced in Mexico, how much is brought from elsewhere, and what is your general policy regarding this?

A: I have created what I like to call a pyramid of fire protection, which starts with a base of ‘first attack’ products, many of which are sourced in Mexico – dry chemical powder and CO2 fire extinguishers, fire hoses, and so on. As you climb the pyramid to the next block, the products are generally used less, but increase in complexity. The second block of the pyramid is detection and alert. Many of these detectors are being manufactured in the country, both for domestic use and export. At the top of the pyramid are highly complex systems that are used, for example, in the petrochemical field: this includes equipment such as controllers, computers, and high sensitivity detection devices for toxic and combustible gases, among others. Most of the equipment at this top level is sourced from outside Mexico.

Q: What opportunities do you see in Mexico for streamlining or growing Kidde’s current range of services?

A: In the oil and gas industry, I believe our biggest opportunity will come from packaged control room solutions, which will allow us to drive better results through controlled environments. We also want to make our solutions more durable, to cope better with harsh environments such as marine and desert locations, and anywhere where salinity is high. In order to achieve our first aim, we will work with solution integrators, who are the companies making the decisions on how to solve each risk that a project will face.