A Survival Manual From Onsite ExpertsBy Pedro Alcalá | Thu, 09/24/2020 - 10:14
Q: Prior to the crises in 2020, what have been the most important changes that ASISPET has experienced since 2015?
A: We partnered with PEMEX in the construction of their structures and infrastructure and experienced the downturn and its effects in specific ways. To survive the volatility of the industry, we have tried to adapt ourselves to these changing circumstances, including restructuring ASISPET. We founded a new company within the group called PetroExperts. As a result, ASISPET has become an entity within that company. Another company that we established within this group is Offshore Technical Assistance. The last two years have still been extremely difficult to navigate. Larger projects have been limited and new developments in the industry have been minimal from our perspective.
The latest project that we have been working on is the development of the Litoral de Tabasco shallow waters water asset. We do not have other projects in the pipeline but we continue to be very involved in the potential acquisition of contracts. ASISPET focuses on consultancy services and in process simulation, while Offshore Technical Assistance is focused on mechanical integrity studies and the licensed certification of pressurized containers. As I said, development and construction activities have been considerably slow, particularly for PEMEX. However, since last year, we have participated in the engineering, construction and launch of the first offshore installation by Hokchi Energy as subcontractors for Sapura Energy. Overall, we do not deny that we have been significantly impacted by the current state of the industry, which I am sure is a situation that many other companies are experiencing.
Q: What would you consider to be the main benefits of your restructuring?
A: The development of our process simulation services has been of great benefit. They allow us to visualize a clients’ production and decision-making for their oil and gas installations and facilities. We have been able to apply these services to both offshore and onshore assets. Process analysis allows us to make our clients’ operations more economically viable and to determine if the shape of their supply lines is adequate. An upstream processing facility that was designed to deal with large production volumes can become impractical if it is working with current depleted wells or production that requires more water separation. Providing more infrastructure and different materials might become necessary in these cases as well. Nevertheless, the only way to make those determinations accurately is through process simulation.
The truth is that many of these existing facilities need major upgrades in order to work under the new conditions. This is particularly true of production facilities, many of which are past the end date of their productive life cycle. This does not mean that these facilities should be decommissioned. They need to be analyzed and studied, not just in terms of processes but in terms of mechanical integrity as well. As a result, it can all add up to a strategy of life cycle extension through certain modifications, adaptations and repairs. It is possible to determine how many more years of productive life you can get from a certain installation through a specific amount of investment. Some operators might only need five or 15 years from their facilities, in which case they can reduce the necessary investment accordingly. Through our restructuring, we have focused on these types of services, which are only going to become more relevant to the industry as it continues to change and resize.
Q: How does your working experience with PEMEX differ from your experience with private operators?
A: Our experiences with private operators have certainly been very interesting. PEMEX is still the managing entity of the industry; it ensures that all fields are functioning. Our profile as a company continues to be is still defined by all the years we worked along with PEMEX. As a result, the manner in which we support the activities and infrastructure developments of these private operators is very much oriented toward PEMEX´s working philosophy, which is then combined with the experiences they bring to the table when working in other parts of the world. For example, in the case of Sapura Energy, it includes extensive work in Malaysian offshore and gas operations. This has resulted in us developing processes that are equally applicable to both of these contexts. The This experience has represented a truly rewarding, satisfactory and successful encounter of expertise and abilities. Their first platform (Sapura Energy) is now going through the last phases of construction at a yard in Tampico. We will continue to assist them to the end of this construction process and also throughout the transfer, installation and launch of this structure.
We would like to see more private operators to include them as part of our growing portfolio. Currently private operators are considered a limited category of client. We look forward to continuing conveying essential knowledge we acquired while working along with PEMEX. I started working for PEMEX in 1976, and my career within the NOC was varied. Within our company, we also recruit much younger people who are willing to learn and it is our responsibility to make sure that they are adequately trained to replace us in the future. The truth is that our industry cannot continue to function through this system where we depend on some sort of “Council of Elders” to oversee everything. Every year, there are fewer of us veterans. I have thought about this a lot recently because I survived a bout with COVID-19, which was quite lucky given that I am of an advanced age, a diabetic and suffer from hypertension. These experiences give you that kind of perspective.
ASISPET is made up of 500 engineers offering different types of services to PEMEX, including a pressure vessel verification unit, a mechanical integrity team and a reliability team. The seven original engineers now lead the service areas.