DNV GL employees in Mexico170
Start of deepwater financial impact analysis studies in Mexico2010
Number of JIP contracts led by DNL globally in 2014more than 100
Certified developmentAugust 6, 2015
With the passing of Mexico’s energy reform, the domestic oil and gas industry faces major changes. Eckhard Hinrichsen, Mexico country manager of technical advisory company DNV GL, talks to TOGY about technology transfer and qualification in an open competitive energy environment and the use of independent verification services to continue the forward motion of the country’s hydrocarbons projects.
How will technology development progress in Mexico’s oil and gas industry through 2015?
Joint Industry Projects (JIPs) are set to play an important role in the development of oil and gas technologies in Mexico.
As technology and knowledge transfer are important themes of the energy reform, Pemex has entered into discussions with technical assurance companies regarding their potential involvement in these JIPs.
They have not joined any of these projects yet, but we are hopeful. JIPs of particular importance to Mexico and the industry as a whole involve creating greater efficiency and product lifespan in offshore pipelines.
One of these JIPs will address the need to improve pipeline maintenance and corrosion prevention technology for the increasingly harsh environments in deepwater and ultra-deepwater developments.
Another of these JIPs is aimed at developing a method for predicting vortex-induced vibration of pipeline jumpers. Such motions are a major cause of fatigue damage in underwater pipelines and offshore exploration and production risers.
Where in the country’s energy supply chain is there an immediate need for advancement?
In general, pipelines are designed to last for 25 years, but much of the infrastructure in the country is around 30 years old.
Some pipelines have not received necessary maintenance services regularly enough. These maturing assets are approaching the end of their design life, but they still need to remain in operation. They cannot all be replaced. Many of the issues stem from external corrosion due to cathodic protection systems cutting out. This may cause the pipeline coating to degrade and affect the infrastructure’s integrity.
While the pipelines undergo internal inspection to monitor their condition, sometimes sections must be replaced and pressure reduced to combat the risk of loss of product.
When this happens, we often find there is a lack of capacity in supplementary pipelines, to compensate for the slower rates with which hydrocarbons are delivered to their destinations.
The Los Ramones gas pipeline system is an important national initiative that is helping to address Mexico’s need for greater pipeline capacity, while also increasing the volume of natural gas imports from the US.
The verification of gas transport pipelines in Mexico is regulated by the Energy Regulatory Commission, which employs the use of official Mexican standards and accredited verification units to ensure that construction, operation and maintenance meet a particular benchmark.
How will technology qualification services impact the Mexican oil and gas market in the short and medium term?
When new technology is developed in the oil and gas industry, there is often a general reluctance among operators and services providers to test out the new products or techniques, due to uncertainty and lack of experience.
This is especially true in the offshore sector, where repercussions for oilfield mistakes are so high. Therefore, the development of these new technologies has also created the demand for reliable systems to qualify them.
Within capital-intensive industries such as oil and gas, introducing new technologies means potentially exposing a project to risk.
As Pemex has already started to invest in deepwater exploration and development projects, there has been a significant increase in risk analysis and environmental impact studies.
To verify the accuracy of these studies, each analysis must also be qualified by certification companies that have international experience in deepwater fields. This should see a continued growth in demand for third-party services.