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Semi-Submersible Platform Key to Explore Mexico’s Deepwaters

Fernando Cruz - Dolphin Drilling
Business Director


Karin Dilge By Karin Dilge | Journalist and Industry Analyst - Thu, 03/16/2023 - 11:11

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Q: What are the company’s expectations for 2023 and how do you see market conditions impacting your operations?

A: Dolphin Drilling has 55 years of experience in the development of semi-submersible platforms for deepwater environments. Up until 2022, the company had a platform installed in Mexico but our objective this year is to provide operations and management services for that type of platform in the country. We are in the process of finding potential clients to sign platform management contracts. The platforms Dolphin Drilling owns are operating in other countries but we hope they can be installed again in Mexico. For the moment, the company is focusing on operational services for Mexico by the time we see more opportunities for bringing back any of our rigs.

Q: What is next in field exploration and development of the field and how is the company’s Blackford Dolphin rig contributing to these developments?

A: More than 50% of the prospective resources in the Gulf of Mexico have not yet been explored. What is more, these potential areas are in deeper waters, where we see an opportunity for the company. For the moment, PEMEX is limited in its short-term approach and focuses more on onshore locations but it should also pay more attention to deepwater exploration, an area where Dolphin can add value. Firstly, we have semi-submersible platforms that are capable of operating at great depths. Dolphin is highly committed to creating a low carbon footprint and plans all its activities with reducing its carbon footprint in mind, this by taking advantage of our certified energy management system. Moreover, we have top equipment, talent and expertise in drilling. Our platforms have an operating efficiency of over 97%, which is exceptional for a semi-submersible platform.

Q: What do you foresee as the role of the oil and gas industry in the clean energy transition?

A: For starters, it is imperative to understand where we stand in the transition. In the particular case of Mexico, we must understand the particular environment and the country’s strong dependence on fossil fuels. Unfortunately, the generation of renewable energy is still at a premature stage and faces many regulatory challenges. Understanding this, we must consider that the oil and gas industry still has many years ahead. It is not a process in which renewables arrive and the industry slowly disappears; some predictions suggest that demand for fossil fuels will remain high for the next 20 years. Price trends will also remain stable. Based on that, the industry will have to coexist with the adoption of renewable energy as well as new technologies. By making the right decisions, we will still have a bright future for the oil and gas industry.

The industry should also focus on attracting and retaining talent because it is becoming increasingly challenging to retain the talent of the younger generations, especially centennials.

Q: What opportunities will nearshoring bring to Mexico’s oil and gas industry?

A: Nearshoring in the case of Mexico is nothing new, thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which boosted the north’s industry. We are simply talking about it more today.

Nearshoring represents a possibility for nearly 400 global companies to establish operations in Mexico. Tesla is a famous example but there are hundreds of companies that could be interested in investing in Mexico. For these players, the common denominator is the need for energy. Together, they could bring an investment of around US$40 billion in the next few years. Companies need to pick locations that make sense logistically to interact with the US and Canadian markets. Crucially, they need stable energy. Therefore, we have to see which regions in the country have energy sources capable of supplying this. For the energy, oil and gas sectors, this translates to a slew of opportunities, especially in building the necessary energy infrastructure. At the same time, the industry can develop synergies between several sectors. Nearshoring is practically linked to the energy sector. One cannot exist without the other. For Mexico, it is crucial to be able to carry out the necessary investments and enhance energy infrastructure.

Q: What would be a good starting point for the road toward energy security in Mexico?

A: The starting point is to clearly set a definition for energy security. The line between energy security and energy sovereignty is muddled: sovereignty does not help us to make the right decisions because it is a concept with a highly ideological component. Regarding the issue of energy security, it is imperative to assure energy sources, examining whether Mexico has sufficient energy to cover demand and to provide a steady supply. This is the key to making the right decisions and providing a legal framework that allows all investments to flourish. 

Furthermore, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict made the need for energy diversification evident and made the world consider power options based on gas and nuclear energy. After that, the next step would be the implementation of public policies that spur the development of energy. 


Dolphin Drilling is known as one of the most established offshore drillers in the North Sea region, with operations beginning in the 1960s under the name Aker Drilling Company. It specializes in harsh-environment drilling.

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