DNV: critical support in Mexico’s key projectsFebruary 16, 2022
Eckhard Hinrichsen, country manager of DNV Energy Systems in Mexico, talks to The Energy Year about the key projects consolidating DNV’s position in Mexico’s upstream and midstream sectors and the company’s work in the areas of LNG, pipelines and renewable energy. DNV provides quality assurance and risk management.
What star projects are consolidating DNV’s position in Mexico’s upstream sector?
We have been in Mexico for 40 years, working in the oil and gas industry for Pemex and the private sector. We cover the whole value chain, having a strong footprint in the midstream but also the upstream and offshore in the area of certification, verification, classification and advisory, where we have consolidated our presence. In this regard, we’ve finished the first phase of third-party verification work for the Fieldwood, Ichalkil and Pokoch shallow-water fields, which started producing in November 2021.
We are also doing the third-party work for BHP Billiton’s deepwater Trion project, in which Pemex holds 40%. We are now working on the FPU for this project and some other aspects. This venture is very significant as it is the first deepwater project in Mexico, apart from the Lakach project, which was abandoned some years ago.
This was won in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, with colleagues from the US, Europe and Asia, which made the quest of bringing such a complex bid together and winning it even more laudable. BHP Billiton selected us mainly because of our experience, technical prowess and a strong local team with excellent recognition with CNH [National Hydrocarbons Commission] and ASEA [National Agency for Safety, Energy and the Environment].
The project itself revolves around classification services for the FPU. We are also doing the verification of the topside, in accordance with Mexican regulations and the ASEA requirements. Apart from this, we will also perform an independent structural analysis of the floating system.
Tell us about the Reference Agreement contract DNV is carrying out to provide process hazard analysis and emergency response plans for all of Pemex PEP’s assets.
In September 2020, we were awarded a Reference Agreement (ACREF) for Pemex PEP, a first of its kind, where we are providing services for all its onshore and offshore facilities in Mexico. This contract involves using the company’s extensive process risk management and environmental safety experience to cover the entire range of upstream operations handled by Pemex E&P. Despite the Covid-19 constraints, we have a large number of colleagues working remotely and in the field now.
Considering the recent incidents witnessed on offshore platforms, our duty is also to do risk analysis and make the pertinent recommendations to guarantee that ageing facilities continue to operate in the safest way possible. Pemex needs to know where its high-risk areas are to take immediate action and avoid safety incidents.
How important has the flourishing of the country’s pipeline networks been for DNV?
Mexico has witnessed a big wave of gas pipeline construction over the last five years and we have been deeply involved in the country’s expansion plans. For example, we were the verification unit for the majority of the 860-kilometre Los Ramones gas pipeline. We’ve also worked on the onshore and offshore sections of the Texas-Tuxpan pipeline. Both onshore and offshore pipeline ventures have definitely been a strong area of business for us in recent years.
How important is DNV’s footprint in the LNG space in Mexico?
Our footprint in the LNG market in Mexico has been solid over the years. We were involved in reviewing the original studies in 2004 to construct the Costa Azul regasification plant for IEnova, which can process up to 1 bcf [28.3 mcm] of gas per day. IEnova has decided to add a liquefaction unit to the terminal to produce and export LNG to predominantly Asian markets. In November 2020, the FID was reached for phase one. We are acting as their verification unit and are now carrying out the design reviews, but will follow the whole process of construction and commissioning with a team of experts onsite.
We were also involved in the other two regasification projects in the country. The first is the Altamira LNG regasification terminal, with two 150,000-cubic-metre storage tanks and an annual processing capacity of 3.7 million tonnes. The other one is Manzanillo, also with two 150,000-cubic-metre storage tanks and a regasification terminal with the capacity to process 3.8 million tonnes per year.
We have been very strong when it comes to servicing the LNG market and we are fully accredited by the authorities to work on regasification and liquefaction activities. Moreover, we are also looking at other LNG projects in the country such as Vista Pacifico LNG, working hand-in-hand with IEnova, as well as two more that are in the pipeline.
To what extent is the firm embracing tech services such as remote inspection or cyber security?
We are fully engaged in using remote inspections via cameras and virtual techniques in real time, having applied these to some of the projects in Mexico. Although we have offered these services for a few years now, the pandemic has accelerated the use of and need for these types of services and most importantly the acceptance of our clients. If done correctly, it can be a lot more efficient and less risky for the inspector.
As for cyber security, this is an area that we are actively growing right now and we have established a dedicated business unit. We recently acquired a specialised company from the Netherlands to strengthen our unit and they are looking into the mitigation of cyber threats and cyber crimes. This is a hot topic which is bound to increase in importance in the near future, even in Mexico, and it has become an important concern in the maritime and energy sectors, amongst others, and we are supporting our traditional and new clients as they analyse and protect themselves.
How engaged is DNV with nonconventional energies in Mexico?
In January 2021, responding to the call for an energy transition, we combined our Oil & Gas and Energy & Renewables businesses into one sole unit called Energy Systems. This unit provides the whole range of services in Mexico, from fossil fuel needs to solar plant ones and the new requirements like hydrogen and CCS [carbon capture and storage].
We are deeply involved in the renewable energy sector – solar and wind, in Mexico, as well as the area of battery storage where we have specialised labs which check the safety and lifetime of batteries. We are present in most solar energy parks in this country via a special unit called Green Power Monitor, or GPM, which is in charge of monitoring in real time the performance of these parks through remote sensors and cloud-based services.
Also, in August 2021, we acquired power price forecaster Antuko, a company specialised in quantitative analysis, market intelligence and risk assessment, helping renewable energy developers penetrate the market via key data and power price predictions. We have an Antuko team in our office and they maintain and commercialise the prediction models for Mexico and in the near future for Colombia as well. This exemplifies our engagement with the renewables arena.
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