Octavio Navarro
Mexico Country Manager
Heerema Marine Contractors

Timely Planning is Essential for Offshore Instllations

Wed, 01/22/2014 - 14:40

PEMEX’s approach to contracting installation vessels for large offshore infrastructure has long presented logistical challenges for companies such as Heerema Marine Contractors, a Dutch company specialized in the transportation, installation, and removal of offshore infrastructure. “Making vessels available for last-minute tenders is a very difficult issue. When we are awarded a project three months before the installation date, this is a huge challenge in terms of engineering, suppliers, sub-contracting, barges, and other segments of our operations,” says Octavio Navarro Sada, Mexico Country Manager of Heerema Marine Contractors. However, he sees a change in the horizon. “PEMEX is seemingly willing to change its approach to contracting transportation and installation services. There is talk of contracting these services far in advance, even before platforms are fabricated. This would give us time to acquire the necessary information on how the platforms will be built and installed while facilitating the interface between fabrication and installation.”

“The critical success factors are time and interaction during the engineering phase, so that preparation for the work can be done on time. Until recently, the engineering, transportation, and installation of large offshore infrastructure were carried out by PEMEX or the EPC contractors, which meant we had to make a number of changes to accommodate the infrastructure to be installed to our vessels and our methods,” says Navarro Sada. This close operational relationship also plays a role in reducing risk during such projects, which due to their complexity and the size of the components and vessels involved can represent a significant hazard in terms of both workforce safety and material damage. “We continuously aim to mitigate operational risk, which is a main concern for all companies involved in offshore activities. The allocation of risk is something we have to approach with PEMEX in contract talks. If a project is planned free of unnecessary time constraints, with the right people, and suitable technology, not many problems will arise.”

Heerema’s vessels and equipment are adapted to shallow water projects, although certain limitations do exist. “It really depends on the type of project we are looking at. Our capabilities are not at all suited to projects in very shallow waters, which saw us having to turn down a couple of opportunities in Litoral de Tabasco area last year. However, all of our vessels are capable of operating in other types of offshore installation projects,” says Navarro Sada. “Once working in suitable projects, our equipment is unparalleled in the industry. Even through our vessels are relatively large, they are faster than smaller ones. The use of two cranes also provides many advantages against competitors, mainly in reducing the time required to complete projects.”

One of Heerema’s most important operations currently underway is the installation of four large platforms in the Ayatsil project with jack-ups at depths of 120m, for which a vessel arrived from Rotterdam in November. Navarro Sada has a couple of ideas to share regarding the possible direction of this project. “There will be a lot of development in Ayatsil in the coming years, reaching water depths of up to 500m. Depending on the water depth, PEMEX will go for fixed platforms or subsea installations. Either way, we have experience in installing all the different assets available for these sorts of activities. There are not many companies who provide such services as the work required is becoming more complex and the tools more sophisticated.” Navarro Sada believes PEMEX would be wise to value partners such as Heerema in order to meet its offshore growth targets in time to meet the challenges of a new, highly competitive post-Energy Reform industry.