Eckhard Hinrichsen
Country Manager
GL Noble Denton
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View from the Top

Reintroduced Requirement Creates Certification Boom

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 18:03

Q: Pemex introduced the requirement that certification companies must have IACS certification. How has this changed the market for GL Noble Denton?

A: As a result of some bad experiences, Pemex is reintroducing the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) requirement, which means that only a few select international companies will be qualified to conduct certification activities for Pemex. In the past, certification was not required in all areas of activity, but it is making a comeback, especially in areas such as deepwater drilling, where the National Hydrocarbons Commission (CNH) made it mandatory.

In recent months, our company has worked on a certification project that is just starting up in Veracruz, and we opened a new office in Ciudad del Carmen focused on marine services, which already enabled us to win several contracts. Marine services for Mexico were run from our Houston office in the past, but we realized that, because of the way that companies do business in Ciudad del Carmen, it was much better to have an office there in order to take full advantage of the available opportunities. The work we are doing from the new office includes marine warranty surveys, marine consultancy, and due diligence for vessels. If a bank is asked to finance the purchasing of a vessel, then they employ an independent technical expert to check out the vessel technically, financially, and assess the management capability of the company that will operate it. This is the type of work we hope to be carrying out from Ciudad del Carmen.

We have also continued our work on deepwater drilling and the first Mexican deepwater project Lakach. We are conducting worst-case assessments for deepwater wells and recently we finished the high-level risk assessment and risk management plan for Lakach. Our work certifying pipelines and infrastructure in Pemex’s South Region is now winding down, and we are currently conducting a risk analysis project in the same region.

Q: What was the full scope of your work at Lakach?

A: Although Pemex’s Lakach project was commissioned some time ago, it is still at the FEED stage, so our work was mainly concerned with giving Pemex guidance about what type of risk analysis and studies would be needed across the life cycle of the project, from FEED stage to abandonment, and across all the assets, from wells to subsea infrastructure, pipelines, and gas plants. We worked with our colleagues from the Houston office and developed a state-of-the-art plan, similar to what the major oil companies are doing for their deepwater projects, but taking Pemex and Mexican requirements into account. These things are always dynamic and they may also change over the course of the project. Companies may come up with better solutions, or change their strategy: it nearly always happens, and then you have to adapt the plan.

Q: How do your services slot into the different life cycle requirements of a project like Lakach?
A: It starts with drilling: we can do evaluation of the well design, plan for worst-case accident scenarios, and do the financial impact analysis, as we do for the wells right now. We can also help with optimizing field design and subsea architecture. We have, for example, a software tool called Optagon, which is used for conducting reliability, availability and maintainability (RAM) analysis. If you have different alternatives for subsea architecture, such as the choice of having one manifold, two, or none, then you can look at all those options and do a numerical analysis to find the best option, and then make a recommendation.

Q: Are there any products or solutions that have good potential for being introduced into Mexico?
A: Uptime is a product for which we see a lot of potential. We have installed the software once in Mexico for Sempra Energy at their gas pipeline system, but we want to push this product more aggressively. In the area of structural reliability and integrity of offshore platforms, we see a lot of opportunities for consultancy and AIM services with Pemex, as platforms are approaching or exceeding their design life.