Can you tell us about your current position and career experience with PETROBRAS?
Today I work as an independent con- sultant. I recently accepted a retirement leave from PETROBRAS where I worked for more than 30 years, as Senior Con- sultant in Subsea Valves and Technical Category Head in Valves. I have spent more than 40 years in my career in the Mechanical Engineering field, mostly on typical mechanical areas and R&D for the Upstream (subsea and top- side) segment, but also incorporating automation, real-time monitoring and robotics. Now, my responsibilities cor- respond with the particular contract I would be working on.
The Research and Development (R&D) center where I worked at PETROBRAS (CENPES) dealt with several R&D ac- tivities, including the validation of new technology. We discovered that some of the design criteria stated to PETRO-
BRAS as being considered in design were not properly implemented in cor- responding products. For instance: once we began our valve evaluation pro- gram, we realized that a great amount, about one third of valve designs, failed during the design validation test pro- gram. It would be equivalent to play Russian roulette with two bullets in a revolver gun. My Master’s and Doctor Degrees (M.Sc and D.Sc.) used this ex- pertise, as each dissertation thesis was directly addressing ways to measure and preserve valve performance or to evaluate its remaining useful life in the field.This knowledge was used and endorsed at PETROBRAS’ corporate level to prepare and supplement most standards and specifications related to design validation and testing of subsea valves and for other industrial valves, especially those working on critical ap- plications, as SDVs.
As I have been evaluating valve designs and their manufacturing worldwide for more than 25 years, I accepted the chal- lenge to be PETROBRAS’ firstTechnical Category Head in Valves. This new task brought me a much wider view on how Valves have been managed at Engineer- ing, Procurement, Construction and In- stallation (EPCI) levels and in different business segments. I then contributed to review, revise and improve corpo- rate procedures, practices and specifi- cations, including a complete overhaul- ing of the Valve Section in PETROBRAS’ “Piping Standard and Material for Oil Production and Process Facilities.”
What advancements have you brought to the subsea sector?
I became involved with subsea valves first, as none were field-proven for deep- er water depths applications and played a key role to set methodologies for de- sign validation and functional product testing. Adequate product development is a continuous improvement process, in partnership with manufacturer’s en- gineering and R&D. Consolidated data from the field, collected before and after years of successful implementa- tion of those methodologies, demon- strated that failure rates were reduced more than 10 times for newer valves in subsea projects. For subsea equipment we could be talking about reducing to less than 10% of previous numbers for intervention costs and associated loss of production caused by faulty valves.
Keep in mind that complete equipment replacement is a standard practice for reliable maintenance and repair in deep water. For example, a production Wet Christmas Tree (WCT) has at least seven metal-seated valves and you will need to shut off production, sometimes for days, if a critical valve failure is de- tected. So, overall intervention values are comparable to acquisition costs of the equipment you are reinstalling. We are talking about a multimillion-dollar decision or equivalent potential cost reduction. With the methodologies and practices we implemented, we had dou- ble savings: mostly in terms of oil pro- duction, due to greater availability, but also on reduction of overall repair costs. Having WCT and other subsea equip- ment reliably validated for record break- ing ultradeep water depths played a key role to set new standards and has been award recognized at OTC in 1992 & 2001 for Distinguished Achievement Awards.
You also have worked to improve industrial valves, correct?
That is correct. As most oil companies, PETROBRAS has business in the Up- stream (subsea, topside and onshore), Midstream and Downstream segments. While we made significant improve- ments on the most critical subsea valve segment, other ones had certain gaps or weak links and were more exposed to potential problems, so these ones should be addressed to have a stronger (supply) chain.
Another example of improvement was the creation of corporate category management for strategic and critical products or equipment, where valve was considered one of them. As I men- tioned earlier, I was invited to be the first Technical Category Head of Valves. It broadened my views to many other processes and practices necessary for a successful valve case, from Engineer- ing requisites at conceptual level (e.g. leak rates, cycle life) and key Procure- ment steps (e.g. vendor list, registry & auditing, inspection policies) to proj- ect specific requisites as delivery time, amount of local content, additional technical requirements and installation constrains. I had to deeply study most applicable corporate procedures, in or- der to propose improved methods and practices to eliminate – or realistically at least to reduce – several of these gaps. I’m proud to say we could implement these improvements , as the mentioned major overhauling of Valve section in the upstream piping guideline direc- tive among other landmarks, but we had to put others on hold, while major corporate restructure efforts happened, catalyzed by external events. I believe several previously identified needs will continue to exist and I’m optimistic to see the future changes happening.
What aspect of your work are you most passionate about?
I have in certain ways occupied very rare positions as I mentioned. A lot of professionals work in one area, then move onto completely different ar- eas or projects. This was not my case, mostly because I’m passionate on what I do. I’m also passionate to demystify Engineering improvements or technol- ogy oriented designs, demonstrating that these newer features do make our life better and safer. I also like to dis- seminate and digest engineering topics as design validation and verification, valve design & selection, tribology, life- cycle prognosis, among other subjects. I have lectured these subjects in gradu- ation and extension courses in univer- sities and companies.
I see challenging areas as subsea and higher criticality valves presenting opportunities to join several different and newer technologies to obtain a synergis- tic result, either in terms of performance or talking about service life and operational availability. Sometimes your main driver is to employ the best technology available to reduce the overall costs associated to failures and intervention. On the other hand, several projects and pro- cesses have less challenging requisites
for endurance, maintenance and critical- ity of service, but the greatest challenge is major cost reduction with minor impact on performance; on these cases the proper balance between performance and cost reductions is paramount.
I like to share this view of mine: Engi- neering, Procurement, Construction and Installation are like facets of a greater puzzle, as in Rubik’s cube, to- gether with Manufacturing and Market constraints. We need to solve all these “puzzles” or constraints to succeed. In our case here, to obtain a “good valve” it would mean solving altogether at least: specification and requirements to perform consistently among products, along its designed life, feasible market bidding and timely manufactured, objectively tested and presenting the best economical solution for its task. This is not a trivial Engineering solution and is needed more than ever. I have worked with these Engineering puzzles and learned a lot. All this motivates and drives me to find the best solution for every problem and application. I’m passionate about what I do and that tends to make you better, right?
Why is it important to you to be involved in conferences like Valve World Americas?
This conference is a great channel to share and broadcast cases, knowledge and experience, among peer professionals and decision-making people. After working and solving problems at PETROBRAS for 30+ years and now as an independent consultant, I have more freedom to deal with knowledge and technology, to increase awareness, inspire new professionals and raise the bar of Standards, as I did in several segments of the industry. Likewise I intend to contribute towards similar goals in Valve World Americas Conference.
What workshop will you be moderating?
I was invited to serve as Session Chair and speak about pipeline valves at the Valve World Americas Conference. I have experience in this area and saw the frustrations that can be involved if you don’t address certain points. Someone might think that a pipeline valve is another conventional valve and they do not need special requirements, but this is not the case, as most valves are customized to better do their tasks.
This Pipeline Valves workshop will present different perspectives: Oil and Gas end-users and EPC speakers will share their points of view, together with views of major Manufacturers and Mainte- nance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO). We will address common issues and inadequacies in the workshop and moti- vate conversation in a guided way, also opened to the audience. It’s rare to see this type of dynamic engagement at a conference. Our aim is to share knowl- edge, transfer some of my own passion and learn from new & different perspec- tives, while allowing the audience to par- ticipate and present their questions and concerns. We are always learning and as we share experiences, we increase the awareness and everybody wins.