Solid Foundations and Strong Social ManagementWed, 02/24/2016 - 13:36
Construtoral was created in 2011 to address several necessities in the construction industries and now it focuses on a range of civil construction projects. At the moment, the firm is working with the Ministry of Communications and Transportation on building highways and is also bidding to develop several small runways. However, this company has found a niche in the construction of wind farms.
Construtoral is currently working with Acciona Energía on the PE Ingenio wind project. This partnership is important to Oscar Toral, Member of the Board at Construtoral, because in his view, Acciona is one of the few companies that have a solid reputation when it comes to social management. The alliance becomes a powerhouse when we consider Toral’s statement, “Our main strength is in creating awareness among the public and mediating between communities and the companies we work with.” Toral’s experience in community relations comes from the 25 years he spent at PEMEX’s exploration and production division, where he worked as a representative of social development in Tabasco, Chiapas, and Veracruz. “At PEMEX, I developed the necessary abilities for mediation and social management, and I am also acquainted with the idiosyncrasies of rural areas and the way people think. Creating dialogue with those who may not be interested or informed about the benefits of our projects is part of the daily operations undertaken by our company,” he asserts proudly, adding that he personally engages with communities to resolve issues that occur during the construction stages.
Toral explains that Oaxaca, the most iconic wind energy region in Mexico, has significant social problems derived from construction. “Our strategy is to promote dialogue between the local public, the authorities, and construction companies. We are both a construction company and a mediator with social communities.” For Toral, working in Oaxaca was remarkably difficult for his company, which at the time was working on Bií Hioxo, a gas project with 117 turbines. The hardest part of the project, as he recalls, was the violent opposition developers and service companies faced from locals who constantly vandalized the infrastructure and machinery. There was also opposition from landowners who had signed a usufruct contract with the company, but were continuously asking for more money. “All construction projects face these kinds of problems, but these are harder to face in Oaxaca. While Oaxaca may have strong potential for wind power, this situation may push companies to other states. Our considerable experience in solving these social problems has helped us minimize them,” Toral comments.
The wind energy sector is diversifying geographically, now growing in states like Tamaulipas and Baja California. As an experienced construction company, Construtoral does not believe wind developments differ much from state to state, at least in terms of construction. The social elements, on the other hand, tend to vary from state to state, and Toral says companies are unlikely to face the obstacles Construtoral has encountered in Oaxaca. Regarding construction, Toral finds rocky terrain to be more difficult to negotiate, but his company has the necessary machinery to overcome this obstacle. Construtoral is acquiring its own equipment in order to avoid leasing costs, and Toral’s company owns 90% of the equipment it is using for the project with Acciona. At the moment, Construtoral is collaborating with Global Energy Services (GES) and is bidding for new projects in Tamaulipas and Coahuila. Construtoral is also interested in working with Eólica del Sur, which is experiencing social issues, and on being recognized by potential clients such as Gas Natural Fenosa and Enel.
Toral says his company is also planning to expand to other energy sectors besides wind power, such as combined cycle. “We want to work with clients from the wind sector who are interested in transferring to combined cycle plants.” Diversifying into other energy sectors is a slow process, as regulatory authorities have many requirements such as endorsements and guarantees. In addition, Construtoral’s expertise lies in construction, so is not involved in the engineering process. This means the company must decide whether it will take on a project on its own or if it will enter a partnership with another company to manage large projects. Construtoral already has ISO certification, which is an essential requirement to enter bidding for many projects.
“Our strategy is to promote dialogue between the local public, the authorities, and construction companies. We are both a construction company and a mediator with social communities”