José Aguilar
Managing Director, Survey Services
Oceaneering International Mexico

Subsea Robotics Leader Sets Sight on Deepwater

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 12:01

As Mexico’s future deepwater sector begins to blossom, the need for international input becomes essential, creating the need for foreign players to disseminate their expertise here, according to José Aguilar, Managing Director, Survey Services, of Oceaneering. “Deepwater knowledge is not something that can be purchased,” he says.

Drawing on his company’s experiences in Mozambique, Nigeria and Angola, Aguilar assures that countries can build successful deepwater sectors with little prior experience.

Aguilar’s optimism is shared by the Oceaneering leadership team, which, he says, is changing its strategy in Mexico to focus on more ambitious deepwater ventures. Aguilar praises PEMEX for having an open mind to new technologies and future joint ventures. “Mexico is a great opportunity,” he says, “and new companies will find a talented pool of technicians, a fair-playing industry and comparatively cheap labor costs in the country.”

As technological advances in the oil and gas industry move forward at lightning speed and automation becomes an increasingly hot topic in the offshore sector, Aguilar is excited to introduce the firm’s robotics solutions to the new players in Mexico’s oil and gas market. “Mexico’s deepwater sector has always been part of our master plan,” Aguilar says, “and December 2016’s deepwater round was a milestone for our strategy in Mexico.”

The company has the additional challenge of tackling exploration and production (E&P) operations at greater depths and Aguilar says that Oceaneering is well prepared to serve Round 1.4’s winners since it is already working with many of these companies in other parts of the world.

As a leader in providing engineered services and products to the global offshore oil and gas industry, particularly in deepwater, Oceaneering finds itself on the correct bearing to capitalize on Mexico’s opening oil market. Aguilar notes that December 2016’s deepwater licensing round, which saw blocks auctioned off to industry heavyweights such as BP,

Chevron and Total, is the company’s opportunity to put its subsea remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to use, and a chance for Oceaneering to offer its other diving, intervention, testing and engineering services.

The Oceaneering acquisition of C&C Technologies in 2015 added a range of surveying specializations to the Oceaneering portfolio, further enhancing the company’s service offerings. Aguilar says this means Oceaneering can offer a complete deepwater package and provide clients with the “one-stop shop” approach that is increasingly demanded by the industry.

Originally a small diving company founded in 1964, Oceaneering has grown to provide a wide range of offshore services and products. Most exciting for Aguilar is the company’s fleet of robotics solutions. “We are ahead in this aspect,” he says, “because we offer a unique combination of ROVs and AUVs.”

Oceaneering ROVs are used in all stages of offshore operations, including drilling, installation, production and completion. These robotic vehicles, which can be operated by a controller above water, are the main focus of approximately 2,000 offshore Oceaneering personnel who work with more than 300 ROV systems covering depths from 2,500 meters to 8,000 meters. Oceaneering is regarded as a leader in ROV systems for the oil and gas industry and this status is bolstered by its ROV training program, which boasts an annual budget of more than US$10 million per year and an active history spanning 22 years. While acknowledging the debilitating impact on the industry of low oil prices, Aguilar maintains that oil price fluctuations should be considered as temporary, cyclical challenges. Hinting at technological advances to come in 2017, he says Oceaneering is focusing on research and development projects specifically geared to the challenges in the Mexican market. “We are the only company that provides AUV inspection services for pipelines,” Aguilar says, “and these new technological developments will enhance our capabilities even more in this area.”