Oil and Gas as Basis for What Comes Next at RelyOn NutecBy Pedro Alcalá | Mon, 03/01/2021 - 10:04
Q: How would you describe RelyOn Nutec’s expansion plans in Mexico?
A: RelyOn Nutec’s global presence and infrastructure includes around 33 training centers in more than 20 countries. When we first arrived in Mexico, we were 100 percent focused on the oil and gas industry. As a sales manager leading business development in the Mexico and Central America region, part of my job was to find new market niches. Oil and gas continues to be a vital industry for Mexico’s economy. Nevertheless, at a global and local level, hydrocarbons have become much more volatile and uneven. This became obvious during the 2015-2016 downturn, easily one of the worst in the industry's history. The lack of stability and the influence of external forces, such as government shifts, global commodities, currency markets and the environment, made us realize that we needed a sturdier basis to ensure our long-term presence in Mexico, and in other countries. Our focus on Mexico’s oil and gas sector is on offshore operations, which thankfully can be easily migrated to offshore renewable energy development, such as the construction and operation of offshore wind farms. Certainly, in other parts of the world, we already have training centers exclusively focused on this kind of activity. We are planning that by the end of 2021 at least two training centers in the US will have the equipment to simulate wind tower training conditions. We are also developing plans to extend this to Mexico in the near future.
We are keeping an open mind when it comes to the introduction of new business lines. For example, in Europe, RelyOn Nutec manages all safety training for Carnival Cruise Line. We also have to think of industrial safety in general, rather than only focusing on site-specific safety, which is what we have done in our offshore work, since we are dealing with very specific safety regulations and protocols that fit worksites with specific characteristics and safety protocols. Industrial safety calls for the customization of safety protocols that have to work from two angles. First, you have to determine what protects a company’s personnel and second, a company’s physical property. This means, equipment, technologies, infrastructure and the integrity of the facilities themselves. We plan for the mining industry to play an important role in our presence in Mexico. Even though it is a new world for us at a local level our global training center network supports us with its experience. In fact, we have already secured a contract for safety training in a mine in the state of Colima. In general, we are looking at a great deal of diversification for 2021.
Q: What criteria do you apply when choosing new industries to expand into?
A: Besides mining and energy, we are still in the exploratory phase for the short term in that regard and we are learning and absorbing all the different safety training requirements of many industries in Mexico. When it comes to oil and gas in Mexico, we know what standards certifiers, operators and public authorities expect, as well as the needs that new clients and operators have when they first arrive in the country, such as the training courses they need to complete to comply with those demands and standards. Lastly, we understand the potential vulnerabilities that need to be addressed. We need to be able to reflect that vast volume of knowledge in any other industry that we want to do business in.
Our ongoing strategy is to identify the degree of overlap between what we know in oil and gas and what we need to know in the new industry in question. We did that for the mining industry before signing the contract. For example, one of the overlaps that we identified was work-at-height, which happens at both mining and hydrocarbon worksites. Mexican norms and regulations define any work that happens at 1.5m above the ground or more to be considered work-at-height. American OSHA regulation is even more stringent, defining that anything that happens at 4ft of elevation, that is 1.2m, or more requires work-at-height protections and procedures. Then there is work in confined spaces, which also comes with its own package of regulations and requirements that the mining industry shares with the oil and gas industry. We interview personnel and visit worksites to determine a company and an industry’s needs. This allows us to identify these overlaps and synergies. Once we have all this information, we can start making offers and gauging interest. We also cannot expect other industries to be as strictly regulated in matters of safety as the oil and gas industry. For example, in mining we have seen many more localized standards, and a less-established global set of expectations, due to the role that these local standards and economies play.
Q: Throughout this process, what advice and feedback do you get from RelyOn Nutec’s globally established offices?
A: We are always backed up by our global experience. We can import knowledge, expertise, content, instructors and even certifications from countries where we have a presence. This information exchange has slowed down due to the pandemic and as a result, we have become more self-reliant. 2021 presents a much more structured landscape, especially now that we have gotten very comfortable using digital platforms and teaching methodologies, which we believe are here to stay, independently of our struggle against COVID-19. Our courses are still taken in a hybrid modality, which requires on-site education and experience, but eventually some courses will be fully digital as well. That will come with its own implications in terms of where these courses are offered from. The pandemic has separated us but it has also integrated our global presence.
RelyOn Nutec is an international safety training and equipment services provider for the oil and gas, maritime, industrial and wind power sectors. The company offers over 200 courses from its Mexican headquarters in Ciudad del Carmen.