Mexico's Sole Platform Fabrication Project to Create Jobs

Mexico's Sole Platform Fabrication Project to Create Jobs
EPCI firm McDermott International will increase its workforce for the 18-month Abkatun-A2 project for PEMEX.

McDermott International Inc. plans to hire approximately 1,600 workers starting next month as it ramps up work on the Abkatun-A2 contract for Mexican state energy firm Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX).

The integrated engineering, procurement, construction and installation firm recently cut first steel on the Abkatun-A2 contract at its Altamira Fabrication yard at Altamira, Mexico. For the Abkatun-A2 project, McDermott will fabricate, install and commission the 20,000 ton platform, which includes topsides, jacket and piles. The platform will be installed in 124 feet (38 meters) of water in Mexico’s Bay of Campeche. The topsides for the project will be twice the size as those McDermott fabricated for PEMEX’s PB Litoral platform.

George Stapleton, director of fabrication operations at McDermott, told Rigzone that the company will need to hire 25 percent more workers in the fitting and welding crafts than ever before to complete the Abkatun-A2 project. The company is “very lucky” to have the project, as Abkatun-A2 is the only platform being fabricated in Mexico right now. The project, which is expected to take 18 months, will involve 1,800 man years, or 4.5 million manhours, Stapleton said. Manpower will be at its peak in April and May of next year, so McDermott will need to ramp up quickly.

At this time, McDermott estimates that the Abkatun-A2 platform will be delivered from the Altamira yard in July 2018. The company will use the Intermac 650 transportation and launch barge for the floatover of the Abkatun-A2 platform; this will mark the first time McDermott has used this vessel for a project at Altamira, Stapleton said. The Abkatun-A2 platform will provide capabilities to the existing Abkatun-Pol-Chuc, Ku-Maloob-Zaap, Cantarell and Ayatsil facilities, McDermott said in a Sept. 22 press statement. PEMEX Exploration and Production awarded the contract to McDermott in June of this year.

McDermott will invest between $13 and $14 million to upgrade the facility to accommodate the Abkatun-A2 contract. This includes upgrading the skidways at McDermott’s facility to support the deck weight of the Abkatun A2-platform. McDermott will also implement three blasting and painting enclosures to move painting from outside to inside. This will help McDermott work around some weather issues. The company also has brought some functions in-house, such as scaffolding, because, according to McDermott officials, the company can do a better job of ensuring this work complies with the company’s safety procedures.

Since work began on the fabrication yard in 2007, McDermott has invested more than $150 million in the yard, said Scott Munro, McDermott’s vice president, Americas, Europe and Africa, during a Sept. 22 media presentation in Altamira.

Part of the yard also has a free trade zone that allows the company to import materials duty free on an export project it comes in and out duty free. For project in Mexican waters, a VAT is paid when the project is delivered. Stapleton estimates this creates a project cost savings of 10 to 20 percent, making the shipyard a little more competitive for foreign work.

The fact that Abkatun-A2 – a critical platform for PEMEX – will be the heaviest deck loaded out from Altamira is the most significant challenge of the project, said Stapleton. Even with needed crane capacity in place, lifts always present a challenge for floatover projects, said Stapleton.

“We have carved up the deck in pieces based on our capacity, and the construction sequence has been designed based on our capacity,” said Stapleton.

Abkatun-A2’s tight schedule is another challenge the company faces, and it is doing all the detailed engineering for the project, Stapleton commented. To cope, the company will set up full-blown engineering office in Mexico City with 90 employees. Yard workers will also be involved in the hook-up and commissioning of the platform.

The company is committed to expanding its presence in Mexico, growing its engineering capacity in both Altamira and Mexico City, said Munro during the presentation. He added that the site at Altamira was not just chosen for its access to deepwater or quality of land, but because the local workforce is known for its welders, metallurgists and engineers, all trades which McDermott needs for success.

PEMEX Spending Cutbacks to Pull Down Regional 2017 CAPEX

Until now, PEMEX has been the principal client, but Stapleton said they hope to do more at Altamira for the export market. McDermott sees the fabrication yard primarily serving the Gulf of Mexico and West Africa. But the company has not seen much bidding activity in the Gulf recently, save for subsea module work.

“They yard was originally conceived as competing in that [deepwater] market,” said Stapleton.

However, the company would need to make some capital investments in the Altamira yard to ready it for deepwater hull work. The company could build deepwater topsides with the existing facility, Stapleton added. Currently, the Altamira yard dock has a draft of 39 feet (12 meters), which would need to be deepened for mating and tie-in.


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Karen Boman has more than 10 years of experience covering the upstream oil and gas sector. Email Karen at


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