Tampico yard re-furbishing decks for Cantarell expansion

Oct. 1, 1999
Enron/Cigsa partner providing facilities

When Pemex decided to revamp its giant Cantarell field in the Gulf of Mexico, it was a wake-up call for Mexican fabrication yards, and signaled new opportunities for international firms to support additional development. Cigsa, owner of two yards on the Panuco River in Tampico, prepared for this surge in new business, but had to first reactivate its El Prieto yard.

The company had long-standing experience building decks and jackets for state-owned Pemex. Cigsa actually fabricated the largest jacket ever built in Mexico - over 300 ft tall. But it had been eight years since Pemex needed fabrication work on that scale for the new Cantarell project. To secure and fulfill these contracts, Cigsa had to ramp up quickly, the facility managers pointed out.

To facilitate the process, Cigsa partnered with Enron's new Offshore Services and Technology division. Bob MacMillan, Enron project manager, said the company partnered with Cigsa to provide much needed capital as well as expertise in specific areas of management and procurement.

The nature of the Pemex contacts was such that portions would be paid as project milestones were met. To upgrade and expand the yard, as well as its staff, Cigsa needed capital. Enron Engineering & Construction, eager to launch its new Offshore Services and Technology division, contracted Cigsa to initiate a partnership.

Fabrication contracts

Enron and Cigsa are fabricating five 8-pile jackets and six utilities decks for Pemex. Another company in the UK will build the accommodation module for these decks. To handle this increased workload, Cigsa made a number of improvements to the El Prieto yard. The length of two skid beams was increased from 150 meters to 250 meters in order to accommodate more jackets and decks.

The yard was resurfaced with gravel to absorb runoff from the frequent rains and eliminate the problem of soft mud. A new electrical substation was installed, allowing the burial of overhead power lines, and providing unlimited overhead space. The yard itself was expanded from about 70 acres to almost 100 acres. Two new 150-ton crawler cranes, two 16-ton overhead cranes, and a large forklift were added, along with a variety of changes to the layout of the yard.

With the help of Enron, El Prieto was reorganized to process more work efficiently. The fabrication facilities, which handle large tubulars, was relocated along with double sub-arc welding stations. A new prefabrication shop was added to handle the smaller tubulars. This new shop included a pipe-profiling machine that is computer controlled. This machine can make precise saddle cuts quickly ,and bevels the edge of the cuts as it goes. These automations not only speed up the cutting process, but increase the precision as well. In addition, MacMillan said the shop added two new sub-arc welding machines. This new equipment allows workers to fabricate double joints for the construction of bracings.

New layout

The new layout of the yard is designed with the goal of taking in tubulars at the front of the yard and fabricating them into platforms as they are moved closer to the dockside. This new arrangement takes advantage of the yard's expanded size, including a new area set aside for arriving tubulars. The improved flow of operations allows Cigsa to work more efficiently, completing jobs faster and handling more projects simultaneously. - The automated welding system installed in the yard to smooth component and platform assembly.

While Cigsa has a strong employee base, Enron says it was able to provide experienced management personnel. MacMillan said the people Enron brought onto the yard had as much as 30 years' experience in fabricating jackets and decks. In addition to fabrication expertise, the Enron specialists helped Cigsa in management areas. Based on its worldwide procurement and management experience, Enron was able to offer Cigsa help streamlining its cost control and scheduling programs to make the most of the assets available.

Strong partnership

While Cigsa had a very successful history working with Pemex, the added expertise and funding from Enron allowed the partnership to compete successfully on a wide range of new fabrication work related to the Cantarell project.

Beyond this short-term goal, MacMillan said the physical improvements in the yard and management improvements have positioned the Enron/Cigsa team to compete successfully in bids for other work outside the Pemex deal. Such a long-range plan is important for a yard that employs more than 1,200 workers, as well as a full engineering staff.

Cigsa Director Jaime Garza said his company and Enron are a good match. While Cigsa had an established relationship with Pemex, Enron had global procurement experience and the credit necessary to acquire equipment and raw materials at competitive prices overseas. Garza said the lending environment in Mexico is very tight, and credit is difficult to come by at any price.

Through Enron's global presence, Cigsa was able to leverage its contract with Pemex into the capital and credit needed to get the yard up and running, and successfully complete fabrication of a wellhead platform. So far, the six contracts the two have worked together on have been a success. Enron put the value of this work at about $344 million.

Enron said the first drilling and wellhead platform constructed by the partnership was shipped out last spring. It included a jacket and deck named Akal TJ for the Akal field in the Bay of Campeche. The second and third jackets were shipped out over the summer for Akal B and L. The decks will follow in December.