Mario Villarreal Ochoa
Director General
Tubería Laguna

Quality Focused Pipe Manufacturing

Wed, 01/25/2012 - 14:14

When asked about the current quality certifications needed for supplying Pemex with pipeline, Mario Villarreal Ochoa, General Director of Tubería Laguna, a Mexican pipeline manufacturer, says that “Pemex has an internal standard for pipelines (NRF-001) that regulates the pipeline’s quality and is based on international API standards, only that it is even stricter than API standards, as there is less tolerance regarding each aspect and there are additional very strict quality tests. In general, the international products in the distributors’ inventories don’t comply with these standards, since the pipeline basically has to be manufactured especially under Pemex standards.”

One of the challenges of operating a pipeline manufacturing business for the Mexican market is the specific challenge created by the nature of much of the oil in Mexico, which has a particularly high sulphur content. This leads to pipeline corrosion, and as a result, Pemex has strict quality controls on the steel used in the fabrication of its oil pipelines.

Tubería Laguna specializes in manufacturing electric resistance welded (ERW) carbon steel pipes and at the moment, Pemex does not allow the use of ERW pipes for drilling. It is for this reason that one of the most pressing issues faced by the company involves finding a way to open up this market in Mexico which could involve negotiation of the existing regulations with Pemex in order to extend the range of available products.

Given the pipe specifications in the Mexican energy market, creativity is required in project tenders to bring both low price and high quality to pipelines. Villarreal Ochoa says that in tenders Pemex generally asks companies to provide both a technical oer and a price oer. First, the NOC will check that a company meets all technical specifications of the tender, and the company that meets the minimum quality requirements and oers the lowest price will win the contract. “Recently, Pemex started considering taking other attributes of the provider into account, in which the service and quality records are becoming more important factors in the final decision to choose the winner,” says Villarreal Ochoa. Tubería Laguna has approached this challenge by developing proprietary production processes that help to lower production costs, while simultaneously increasing overall revenue through increasing international sales. “With globalization, quality requirements have increased and margins have been reduced considerably. We have to be more competitive, more ecient and more eective in terms of production and price in order to reach distant markets.”

Tubería Laguna was the third in the world to receive the API certificate for pipelines and recently, in 2011, to be one of the 30 businesses selected in Mexico as a Shell global supplier. Villarreal Ochoa says that the company was selected “because of our expertise, our experience in oil and gas manufacturing, our experience in exporting our products to oil and gas projects abroad and also our commitment to quality and our technical procedures. These are all things that Shell looks for in its tenders.” It will also be easier for Tubería Laguna to work with other major oil companies worldwide, as soon as they are fully approved by Shell, Villarreal Ochoa believes.