Octavio Navarro
Mexico Country Manager
Heerema Marine Contractors
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View from the Top

Speed, Experience Differentiate Heerema in the Offshore Sector

By Peter Appleby | Fri, 11/27/2020 - 11:32

Q: How was Mexico’s marine sector progressing prior to the arrival of COVID-19?

A: The marine sector has not been too heavily impacted by the arrival of the pandemic, nor has it had an overly large influence on the work we have done. Offshore platform installation, along with the general oil and gas industry, was specified by the federal government as an essential activity and we have not stopped.

Prior to COVID-19, PEMEX was working on its projects and since the arrival of the pandemic it has continued working as much as it can. The economic matters that restrict the company remain but it has commissioned other platforms to be built and they will need installation services. The main change for Heerema is that we now have a contract after having four years of very little activity in Mexico. We expect the future to provide more continuity in terms of contracts and activity. Nevertheless, considering the changes to the industry this year, we do not expect it to be extremely busy.

Heerema used to work directly for PEMEX but recently the company decided to give the responsibility of the transportation and installation to manufacturers. Now, we work through the manufactures as sub-contractors.

Q: How was the installation of the Yaxche-C jacket and topside for Cotemar successfully carried out?

A: We had originally planned to do the job within a seven-day time frame. We ran six hours over due to some small issues, including some changes the client requested. These were minor issues that we solved very quickly but it pushed us just over our targeted time.

Heerema has four vessels in its fleet. Any of those vessels could have done this job but the Heerema DCV Balder was a more suitable size. The others would have been too large. The Balder was closer to Mexico, being anchored in the US Gulf of Mexico prior to the Cotemar job.

Q: How has COVID-19 complicated the logistics side of Heerema’s operations and how has the company overcome them?

A: COVID-19 has made the logistical side of the industry more complex. One of the main problems we have had is with crew changes, which is a necessary and frequent requirement when working offshore. Each and every country has its own regulations regarding how crew changes must be carried out. Understanding the complexities of each situation has proved a great task.

We recently had a situation where we were transporting a chartered plane full of workers from the Netherlands to Canada. When we left the Netherlands, Canada was open but the Canadian government decided to change its stance while we were in the air. This decision forced us to return to the Netherlands. We were able to go to Canada some days later but the crew had to quarantine in a hotel for 14 days. This meant we lost over a month of work time. On one of our vessels and many workers were unable to return home for four months. These sorts of issues are what has made work more difficult.

Q: What are Heerema’s plans to capture future contracts?

A: We are in contact with all operators in Mexico. We are tracking various opportunities and are in talks to sign two contracts. Our goal is to extend our services with private companies here. There are new players in the offshore arena and we are in touch with them to demonstrate the services we provide. Many of our working relationships in Mexico are based on the experiences we have had with clients in other parts of the world. They know the quality of work we deliver and the speed with which we deliver it. We are hopeful that four to eight platforms will be installed in the next 18 months.

Q: How competitive is the Mexican offshore market in a post-COVID-19 environment?

A: Mexico has always been a good market and Hereema has been successful here because it has demonstrated its ability to finish projects. We enjoy a solid reputation around the world and we have been able to capture the majority of installation jobs in the country. Mexico will continue to be a good market despite the uncertainty over the future of the country’s industry given the economic situation PEMEX faces and whether privates will be able to become more involved here.           

PEMEX must continue exploring for more oil and making discoveries. That is its primary purpose after all. However, the way that the company accomplishes these goals may change. It could get financing elsewhere – outside of the government – but the company will continue searching. This means that offshore platforms will be constructed and need to be installed. Hereema will be happy to support that. None of the private companies will stop their work in Mexico.

Q: How central are innovative technologies to the way Heerema operates?

A: Heerema is always looking to introduce and adapt new technologies and create tools to improve the services we offer. Some countries have certain restrictions that Heerema must adapt to and we comply with these restrictions. One example is the different levels of noise pollution allowed in the waters of one country versus another. This means we must adapt our procedures depending on the location in which we are working. Innovation is a large part of this adaptation and it is an area we always work on.

 

Heerema Marine Contractors is headquartered in the Netherlands. It is a leading marine contractor in the international offshore oil and gas and renewables industry. It excels at transporting, installing and removing offshore facilities.

Peter Appleby Peter Appleby Journalist and Industry Analyst