Lucía López
Senior Consultant
Control Risks
View from the Top

Managing Security Risks in Remote Locations

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 17:13

Q: What is Control Risks’ primary contribution to Mexico’s energy transition?
A: Control Risks helps developers manage the inherent risks of operating in Mexico. Managing these risks effectively prevents delays in the development of renewable energy projects and helps protect the reputations of the involved companies and stakeholders. We evaluate specific risks related to the precise location where a project will operate. This evaluation can be done either before the long-term electricity auction process takes place or during the construction stage. In Mexico, when we talk about risks we refer primarily to security, given the deterioration in the last 10 years and the complexity of organized criminal organizations. Locations with good wind and solar potential tend to be in rural areas where we often find overlap between organized crime groups and common criminals. Another risk element we analyze concerns the political environment, corruption and the labor unions companies must interact with. The last element of risk to consider is social, for which we deploy research and stakeholder mapping practices.
Q: What local project could best showcase Control Risks’ added value?
A: Control Risks is a global company. In Mexico, most of our clients are developing projects in complex locations such as Tamaulipas. The added value we provide for these companies is the combination of analysis and research, with work from our physical and technical security experts. This includes the security design of PV parks, how to protect on-site equipment and the design of emergency protocols. We craft specific plans related to operations, such as the logistics of moving panels from a port to the site, or how to transport the plants’ engineers. We provide tactical information, rather than just an overview of the country’s different security variables. Should our clients face an extortion or kidnapping case, we can manage the situation. We also take charge of risk management, not only in security issues, but also for reputational crises or incidents that lead to a loss of production. For companies that have a pipeline of projects in different locations, we integrate their assets into a single risk-management plan for operations in Mexico and afterward we generate specific plans for each of their locations and for every project.
Q: What would be your advice to project developers?
A: Risk management of social issues, security and corruption are not usually a priority for large-scale project developers. Even though there are many things to consider, risk management should be given serious consideration. Beyond the production of energy and the costs related to the projects, these companies also have to protect their employees. Another important issue to take into account is that, as the new presidency unfolds, we will see several changes that will further complicate the situation in some locations such as Chihuahua and Tamaulipas. We anticipate that stability will bring more favorable project environments to some locations while difficulties will prevail in other parts of the country. Companies need to research what this transition process will mean for the locations in which they operate and what this change of government entails for them.
Q: What technological tools does Control Risks use to deliver its services?
A: When it comes to technology solutions, our main tool is our monitoring center that lets us visualize and track critical factors. We have also developed an app to track people and verify their location. In the event of a major incident, we set in motion a previously established crisis management plan. We can equip vehicle fleets with panic buttons that alert us to any dangerous situation that users might encounter. The monitoring center is constantly retrieving information from social media and our on-the-ground network, to detect if there are any incidents in the areas where our clients operate. If something happens, we take a proactive approach to notifying our clients.