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Insight

Value-Focused Drilling Fluids

Wed, 01/25/2012 - 08:42

Since QMax, the Canadian drilling fluids company, entered the Mexican market in 2000, it has based its business model on a relentless commitment to exceeding customer expectations while refusing to oversell. “Keeping in mind that the cost of the drilling fluid is typically about 10% of the total cost of drilling a well, we always try to deliver the best possible mud system for each job, but we do not let our clients spend extra money that doesn’t generate extra value,” says Garrett Browne, General Director of QMax Mexico. “As a result, we are able to obtain repeat business from numerous satisfied clients.”

While the backbone of Qmax’s operations in Mexico has not really changed over the past decade, the company changed its slogan from “exceeding customer expectations” into a vision to be the “go to” company. Although slogans often are simply marketing tools, in this case the change reflects the evolution of the company’s business philosophy. As the company matures, its core focus remains on pursuing a winwin method of engaging with customers to continuously optimize its portfolio of services including drilling fluids, engineering, solids control and waste management, which is now complemented by an ambition to be the “go to” company not only for drilling companies and oil companies, but also for suppliers, shareholders, and employees. “I want to work for Qmax; that is my “go to” company,” says Browne.

Over the years, investing in Mexico’s talent pool, and providing them with the training and technological tools to excel, has been a strategic priority for Qmax. The company’s mud school has trained over 190 Mexican chemical, industrial, mechanical, and electrical engineers to become mud engineers who serve as Qmax’s field supervisors. “They have an inspiring job and a good company to work for,” says Browne. “In recent years we have dramatically expanded the size of our laboratory system – now consisting of labs in Reynosa, Piedras Negras, Altamira, Poza Rica, Veracruz, Ciudad del Carmen and Villahermosa – and upgraded our equipment. By investing money back into the country we give Mexico the technological capabilities it needs, we allow our people to do a better job for Pemex, and we stay on top of our game.” Underscoring that Qmax walks the talk, the company’s workplace health and safety systems are certified by both OHSAS 18001 and the federal government’s Autogestion programme. In addition, the company holds the ISO 9001:2008 quality management certification, while its environmental management performance and systems are ISO 14001 certified and have received the federal government’s Industria Limpia certification.

Staying on top of your game is easier when you have the market share and resulting economies of scale that Qmax enjoys, but when Qmax arrived in Mexico over ten years ago, all of its competitors were already present in the market. “Today, one of our advantages is size, but we didn’t grow to be the biggest because that was our goal,” says Browne.

“Our size is the natural reflection of the capacity required to properly and adequately execute the work we have and the amount of work we expect to do in the future. At the end of the day, all investment decisions for the construction of mud plants are taken based on demand. At the moment we are building a new plant in Altamira, which will make us the only drilling fluids company with a mud plant there. That is not to say that our competitors should also build plants in Altamira; if they don’t have work in the region they will not drop US$1.5 million just to have a plant there.”

Reduce, reuse, recycle

“The real quality we oer to Pemex, is a focus on doing the right things at the right time, both in terms of capacity building and new technology introduction,” Browne says. “Our policy is based on the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ mind-set because we do not accept that a disposal system where the material is pushed underground and only out of our minds is a better solution than the implementation of an actual process to recover and recycle the diesel which is now wasted.”