The business of lube and fluid supply is fiercely competitive and ever-changing, continually challenged to deliver more economical, environmentally and better performing product. Maritime Reporter spent some time with Carmen Pino, a West Point graduate and the Regional Operating Director, Castrol Offshore , to discuss his team’s strategy to grow its business. – by Greg Trauthwein
How would you describe your management philosophy?
Pino I am very participative; I want to meet all of my people and the customers personally. At the same time, I set clear direction and boundaries. I think you have to get your team lined up in the direction they need to go, let them know what they can and can’t do, and let them run.
How big is your team, and what area do you cover?
Pino I have 30 people in four regions. We are responsible for everywhere in the world except Europe and Africa, which is run by a colleague of mine based in the UK .
The global economy has been a rough ride in recent years. How has it affected your business?
Pino The last few years have been some of the most difficult, not just in offshore of course, but business in general. We saw several big projects delayed, so we've placed more emphasis on innovation and new customer needs. This will result in new offers that will provide more long-term value to our customers.
When you come to work every day, what is your mission and where are your targets?
Pino We want to be the supplier of choice when it comes to lubricants and control fluids. Our “targets” are heavily weighted toward the subsea industry and the topsides of offshore installations.
Geographically, what are the “hotspots?”
Pino It really comes down to the “Golden Triangle” of the Gulf of Mexico, Brazil and West Africa. Asia, also, offers some interesting opportunities. In Brazil we have historically managed the business from Houston or the UK. Last year we decided to set up local technical management in Rio. This lines up to our strategic plan in Brazil to provide solutions to their challenges, such as efficiently tapping the Subsalt fields and broadening the reach of Castrol's offshore-focused global network.
How does your business look for 2011 and beyond?
Pino Surprisingly, it is quite good. We are growing our share with some of the biggest operators in the world. On the topside lube business, where our competition is the oil majors, we are in a unique position in that this is a “pure” business segment with a dedicated team. We have a global business set-up explicitly for the offshore business and the needs of its customers, which I believe makes us unique. On the subsea side of the business, typically we compete with a handful of smaller chemical companies. The challenge here always is getting products approved for use in this challenging environment, where regulators drive improved standards.
What do you count as your strategic advantage?
Pino Being a part of an oil major, we have some big advantages to leverage. First, as I mentioned previously, we have a dedicated offshore team that is customer-need orientated. Second, we have a tremendous resource in our Global Technology Center at Pangbourne in the UK, which is second to none in product R&D and performance testing.
What do you count as your biggest challenges?
Pino On the product side, I think we are seeing the tip of the iceberg regarding the environment, and I think that it is right and is what is needed. On the subsea product side, we are breaking new ground every day in terms of water depth and temperature, and our job is to ensure that the fluids perform in these environments.
On the personnel side, recruiting is always a challenge, because in this, a vibrant and growing industry, there are always other opportunities for our team to consider. We encourage our team to stay focused on the company, honing in on how to build and grow the business. We don’t have multiple layers of management and are challenged to meet the career expectations of some of our employees.
What are the product brands you offer to this market?
Pino Castrol Greenfield is a product line that has enjoyed tremendous growth, with products that meet or exceed environmental legislation. Castrol Ultimax is our performance product range; the product suite covers a diverse range of critical applications from top drives and mud systems through to gas turbines and greases. Our subsea lines are a mix of performance and environmental products.
How have you helped an operator to work more efficiently and cost-effectively?
Pino We signed a contract with a global drilling contractor, who at the time had many suppliers and more than 350 lubricants in use, putting unnecessary stress on their logistical operations. We packaged a standardized product solution consisting of about 50 products globally. When their operational footprint moves, Castrol are already there to supply in their new area . We haven’t yet gotten to the bottom of the actual cost savings, but it is significant.
(As published in the April 2011 Edition of Maritime Reporter & Engineering News)