Rociel Barrera
Director General
Diablo Pipeline Solutions
View from the Top

Pipeline Integrity in a Changing Market

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 16:35

Q: Diablo has more than 20 years in the Mexican pipeline market. What has changed in that time?

A: It is very different. Twenty years ago, working in pipelines was easy but now security problems have become very serious. In Mexico we have to be careful. On the other hand, the pipelines themselves are definitely in much better condition than 20 years ago. 

Q: What are the problems for which you most typically are called in?

A: Often, we are called in to repair or clean very dirty or inefficient pipelines. After going out into the field to study the problem, we make proposals to bring efficiency levels back to 100 percent. We must adjust our strategy to Mexico’s different types of terrain. The center of Mexico has rocky terrain, but in the south, it is really swampy, meaning we have to use different methods to repair the pipeline. In the case of rivers, lakes and marshes, we have to put metallic boxes around the pipeline to pump the water out so our technicians can repair the pipeline unimpaired. Beyond the cleaning and repair of pipelines, we are trying to make our clients understand the importance of the integrity of the whole system. 

Q: What is meant by pipeline integrity and how does this help the sector?

A: Pipeline integrity encompasses everything related to the pipeline. It is the steel they are made of, the pressure in their placement, repair methods and repair frequency, among other factors. All these things effect the integrity of the pipeline and its network One of the main components in maintaining pipeline reliability and integrity is cleaning. When there is dirt inside, bacteria might corrode the metal. Some of our potential clients are spending millions of dollars every five years because they fail to clean their pipelines regularly. We are trying to make our clients more aware of these expenditures and how they can avoid that witregular cleanings. As is typical in our market, there is always money to repair and inspect, but none for prevention. We are trying to change decades of thinking and channel our clients’ spending toward prevention instead of replacement.

Right now, the profile of companies in our sector in Mexico is changing. These new companies come from all over the world and they keep an eye on every dollar. We are allied with the ROSEN Group and one of our objectives is to make our clients aware that it is better to invest in prevention than repair.

Q: How does the PECAT pipeline tool offer value to clients?

A: The PECAT is a globally-unique technology that was invented by Pipeline Engineering & Supply Company, a UK partner of Diablo Pipelines. It measures the level of dirt inside the pipeline with such accuracy that it can register particles of less than 1mm in diameter. The accuracy of this technology has attracted the attention of a major pipeline company, which has an issue with powder in its pipelines, and with which we are in talks. The PECAT technology could help it measure the amount of powder it has inside its natural gas pipelines. This is important because when the pipeline has incrustations, powder or other contaminants on its walls, it will not function optimally due to bacteria corroding the metal, and the inhibitors that have been injected into the pipeline will not work as they should. This also means the company must spend more money on inhibitors and so on. The PECAT can play a important role in solving these problems.

Q: What is your strategy with partners The ROSEN Group, NDT Global and Pipeline Engineering & Supply Company?

A: Our strategy is to diversify our partnerships. For example, with NDT global, we have been inspecting and maintaining more than 2,500km of pipelines in Colombia and Ecuador. Our alliance with The ROSEN Group will allow us to offer its unique technologies for cleaning pipelines. We want to sell ROSEN’s products and our services to our clients in Mexico and Central America. We are going to be the first company doing this in Mexico. We are already working in Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia. Our goal is to be present across each country in the Americas within three years.