Eric Barry
Director General
AIRSTAR Latin America Network

Shedding Light on Platform Safety Issues

Wed, 01/20/2016 - 16:42

Comparing the Latin American safety approach with that of the European continent, Eric Barry, Director General of AIRSTAR, notes that the first still has a way to go before achieving world-class standards in workplace safety and workforce protection. “The first priority of industries such as mining and oil and gas, where risk is ubiquitous, should be safety,” he states. However, Barry has observed this situation changing in Latin America as companies begin to recognize the crucial role that human capital plays in the industry, and safety and security become increasingly important. The country is also changing its inherent approach to these subjects through the creation of ASEA, an organization in charge of creating adequate regulations for industrial safety in the oil and gas industry. Moreover, he expects the entrance of new private companies to bring a higher level of regulatory oversight, as international players traditionally have extremely high safety standards.

AIRSTAR is a French company with over 25 years of experience in the development and manufacturing of innovative lighting balloon illumination technology for industrial maintenance, as well as for industrial safety and firemen rescue. “Our products have several technical advantages, such as the capacity to illuminate 360° in a uniform manner without shadows and without changing shape or color,” Barry mentions, while pointing out that they are surprisingly easy to install. They also do not dazzle, do not deflate, do not explode, and are water and wind resistant. “When working at night, these are all essential factors to guarantee the safety of workers and efficient operations,” Barry continues. In Europe and the US, there are norms regulating lighting solutions for highrisk activities, so the use of lighting balloons is dictated by law. Companies that use the balloons for nocturnal activities receive a subsidy from social security, due to an awareness that the equipment will reduce workplace accidents and social security costs.

AIRSTAR manufactures in France, the US, and China, and its stringent standards ensure the lighting balloons are adapted to the particularities of the 130 countries in which the firm has presence, including Mexico. This country poses no specific challenges for the balloons, as these are regularly used in areas under extreme conditions, such as the North Atlantic and Canada. The balloons can withstand temperatures lower than -40°C and higher than 80°C, wind speeds of up to 100km/h, and can even be used in snowy conditions. “We have spent over 20 years developing the equipment, and our qualified engineers ensure the highest standards for our clients, which makes us a leader in our field,” Barry asserts.

The company has several novelties in its portfolio, including the development of clean technologies powered by renewable energy, a product that will be released in the future. “We are also working on hydrogen batteries, but the implementation of this project has been delayed,” Barry admits. AIRSTAR is ultimately working to become a more sustainable company, and is developing alternative light sources that would require less consumption and provide higher efficiency. He expects their self-powered lights to be launched in the European market first, as it has fewer intricacies than others. “Once the pilot project has finished, and when the products are ready for export and sale abroad, they will immediately be available in Mexico,” he discloses. In the meantime, the French company hopes to sign contracts with the market’s new players, and to cultivate links with PEMEX in order to situate lighting balloons in the NOC’s fields and rigs.

Over the years, AIRSTAR has worked in close partnership with many of the large players in the oil and gas industry, such as Total, BP, Shell, and ExxonMobil. In addition to working on its market integration in Mexico, AIRSTAR also seeks to cater to the needs of companies that will enter the market as a result of Round One. “We are preparing for this by following the same commercial strategy that has worked so well for us in the past, which is to form and consolidate a network of distributors to serve specific markets such as offshore, extraction, exploration, and refining,” Barry announces.