High-tech services in MexicoJuly 30, 2015
Constantino Galanis, general director and CEO of Química Apollo, discusses Mexico’s evolving oil and gas marketplace, with a view to the role of chemicals services providers perform in hydrocarbons extraction. Química Apollo is a local chemicals manufacturer and services provider with more than 30 years of experience.
What opportunities do chemicals services providers have in Mexico’s oil and gas market?
The hydrocarbons fields that will be awarded during the Round One tender are diverse and will require advanced recovery technologies and chemical compounds. These fields include shallow-water, onshore, deepwater, extra-heavy crude and unconventionals. Due to the wide range of geological and crude characteristics, the market presents attractive opportunities to companies offering chemicals used from upstream enhanced oil recovery to downstream processing.
Local chemicals providers have already specialised in developing many of the compounds needed to combat the challenges associated with increasing the recovery rates of extra-heavy crude to provide them to Pemex.
A range of treatments for mature fields is being established through the improvement and conditioning of flow levels. Meanwhile, Mexico’s market is making a concerted effort to develop technology and improve methodologies related to secondary recovery.
How will midstream activities gain from advanced chemicals capabilities?
The relatively low capacity and high usage of Mexico’s pipeline system has required the formation of specific chemicals and services to meet the industry’s requirements. Mexico’s heavy Maya crude has required consistent research and development since the industry’s beginnings.
Without the desalting and dehydration process and the industry’s progress made in crude demulsification, transporting Maya crude would be more difficult. Treatment procedures are necessary to avoid infrastructure damage. The heavy use of these pipelines has also necessitated crude analysis and testing labs, installation of maintenance dosage systems and automated communication technologies within the lines.
Crude pipeline infrastructure will need to be expanded once Round One is underway. This will result in a natural increase in crude treatment and subsequent pipeline treatment demand. Specialised technicians’ availability to do analysis activities will also need to expand. In the long term, these changes will improve the country’s services and workforce capabilities.
How are developments in the oil and gas industry impacting the petrochemicals sector?
As a result of new pipeline developments between the US and Mexico, increasing supplies of natural gas will improve petrochemicals production activities, as well as water treatment. On the other hand, structural changes in Pemex, in addition to the newly formed administrative process for evaluating and selecting suppliers, establishes a new precedent of efficiency that will transfer to companies’ downstream activities.
Is the Mexican petrochemicals sector introducing new technologies?
All six of the country’s refineries need substantial investment and overhauls. This is an important opportunity for companies such as Apollo, as it means maintenance activities and fuel exports will eventually rise. Hydrogen sulphide treatment for petrol exports and chemicals cleaning of refinery systems are necessary to the proper function of refining activities.
Developments in the use of nanotechnology, compatibility and integration of heavy crude treatment methods are also attracting attention in Mexico. Furthermore, the implementation of new standards of performance for fossil fuels and the incentives for using renewable energy sources also occupy an important place in the developing chemicals industry.
Despite these opportunities opening up, I think it will take at least two years for the effects of the market opening and increased refinery activities to have a substantial impact on the domestic chemicals services marketplace.
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