Yann Kirsch
Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Planning

Self-Erecting Modular Rig Technology up the Sleeve

Wed, 01/22/2014 - 14:20

Goimar has traditionally been a service provider dedicated to leasing and subleasing rigs. The company’s traditional modus operandi was to create alliances with international players and serve as the gateway to the Mexican market. “We would win a contract and send personnel to operate and maintain the rig, which would be supplied by our partner, but we would not hold any shares in the asset,” says Yann Kirsch, Goimar’s Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Planning. However, from simply being a contractor, Goimar gradually shifted to becoming an owner, operator, and manager of rigs through synergies with investors interested in the Mexican oil and gas industry. The first rig the firm acquired was the Adriatic II, obtained from Swiss offshore drilling contractor Transocean, but others swiftly followed. “All of our acquisitions are intended for the Mexican market. We are not interested in operating elsewhere at the moment because the Mexican market has a privileged potential,” says Kirsch.

Goimar’s strategic shift can be attributed to communication with PEMEX, which regularly informs contractors about its needs, the depths it is planning to reach in drilling, and the type of equipment being sought. In the tendering process, PEMEX remains open to answer further questions on its planned activities, a process which allowed Goimar to look ahead and begin gathering the right equipment for the tasks at hand. In looking for which rigs to bring into Mexico, Goimar spotted a key element for future market growth: modular rigs. Although there was a boom for jack-ups, Kirsch anticipated that modular rigs would soon be in high demand. These are specifically made for PEMEX jackets and can play a role in sparking off the market for construction companies that build these structures. Having acted swiftly on this insight, Goimar now has four modular rigs in operation for PEMEX, as well as four jack-ups, two of 375ft, one of 350ft, and one of 300ft. “We estimate that Goimar will soon have ten drilling rigs, while we are also acquiring four semi-submersible modular rigs. We are anchoring our future growth around our rig operating capacity. As shallow water operations become more complex, the demand for more sophisticated equipment will increase. Goimar currently operates 2,000hp modular rigs but it will soon have to scale up as PEMEX is now requesting 3,000hp rigs.”

Technology is constantly evolving to deliver a more secure environment in offshore drilling operations. Goimar embraces the ‘safety first’ approach that is at the core of PEMEX’s strict policies. According to Kirsch, technology should fulfil safety requirements in an efficient and cost effective way. As such, Goimar’s GX-10 self-erecting 3,000hp modular rig incorporates features that minimize potential damage to the environment in addition to providing a safe setting for operators. The rig can be operated by as little as four people, a trait that Kirsch believes will have an impact on future drilling endeavors. The GX-10 was able to impress CONACYT, which granted Goimar several awards for innovation. Resulting from this, Goimar created a company called GIT (Goimar Inovaciones y Tecnología) with CONACYT’s support to focus on the oil and gas industry. Despite technological prowess, Kirsch believes that the Mexican market may not yet be ready to embrace the GX-10. Regular modular rigs require the use of a crane barge, which picks up the drilling package unit and fits it on top of the jacket, which PEMEX has to pay for. This poses a logistical complication since the crane barge has to be ready and available at the precise moment of installation. “Although this disadvantage of the GX-10 can be solved, the drawback of self-erecting modular rigs is that their completion requires approximately 18 months, exceeding PEMEX’s waiting time. This is problematic since financial institutions view this lengthy construction phase without cash flow as a barrier to funding such projects. This is what I mean when I say the market is not ready for these types of rigs. However, PEMEX’s interest in this kind of equipment will surely change given time,” tells Kirsch.

In anticipation of the increasing demand for rigs, Goimar is maintaining a large database of available human capital to be called upon when needed. Without this, it would need to import costly skilled labor, the cost of which could potentially be passed on in the fees charged to PEMEX, a situation Kirsch is not willing to consider. This database means that Goimar does not use outsourcing contractors; it hires its staff directly through the database and takes on the corresponding administrative responsibility. Continuing this recruitment strategy is a pillar of Goimar’s strategy for the future.