Armando Rodríguez García
Director General
View from the Top

Modernizing Mexico’s Merchant Navy

By Conal Quinn | Fri, 07/01/2022 - 11:39

Q: What do you consider to be the flagship development project of your tenure? 

A: A key project is the development of the SIPCOS, the Intermodal Port and Coastal Systems.  Their main function is to integrate ports with the more general economic development of coastal regions. This allows the trade and logistics of each region to be coordinated by ASIPONAs and other port authorities and users. This project considers new industries, services and academic centers that will contribute to the region’s growth. Additionally, we are developing short sea shipping capabilities within the national port infrastructure system. This will make transportation safer by potentially mitigating security issues faced by truck drivers on highways while taking logistical pressure off the national highway system by reducing truck maintenance needs and traffic congestion. Short sea shipping can also help the hydrocarbons sector to move crude and other commodities.


Q: What role does the oil and gas industry play in Mexico’s port infrastructure development? 

A: Industry and port infrastructure development go hand in hand, especially now that exploration and production activities are reactivating. All new equipment used in upstream projects must pass through a Mexican port or shore. Any operator looking to build its own coastal infrastructure to receive or process offshore production needs to be in contact with us to receive the required permit.

 The 2014 Energy Reform had a major role in generating new investment in Mexico’s port infrastructure. Short sea shipping is essential to attracting more investment, as is the integration of ASIPONA Campeche, ASIPONA Dos Bocas, ASIPONA Tabasco, ASIPONA Coatzacoalcos, ASIPONA Veracruz, ASIPONA Tuxpan, ASIPONA Tampico and ASIPONA Altamira to better serve the oil and gas industry. The need for fuel distribution will further act as a driver for infrastructure development, boosted by concessions granted to private parties that can import and store fuel on their own. Market forces will be crucial in determining how quickly these projects can be financed and completed. 

Refining and converting oil and gas is important to meet national demand for fossil fuels while decreasing imports. These projects also allow terminals to explore new businesses in new types of commodities, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG).  


Q: How did Mexico’s Merchant Navy become involved in the oil and gas sector? 

A: There have been two merchant navies in the history of our country. The first, dating back to José López Portillo’s presidential term between 1976 and 1982, focused primarily on transporting cargo of Mexican origin. The long-term contracts issued during this time allowed shipyards to build different vessels, such as bulk ships and mineral ships. This also gave maritime transportation companies a sense of economic security. When most of these state-owned companies disappeared, the old merchant navy evolved into a petroleum merchant navy. Now, 97 percent of its business is oil-related. 


Q: What role do CAMEINTRAM and its members play in the Mexican marine transportation industry? 

A: Not everyone is concerned about the development of the Mexican merchant navy. This is what sets the chamber apart in the eyes of businesses. Private companies began to worry about the future of the marine transportation industry. This is not due to the emergence of a particular problem but due to proactive companies looking for growth opportunities in the industry. CAMEINTRAM lobbies to create these opportunities by meeting with our members and key stakeholders, all proactive businesses looking to improve the industry. CAMEINTRAM divides its membership into three main groups: ship owners, operators and service providers. The chamber is committed to the task of creating a better merchant navy. 


 Q: What are the most important items to address in your agenda throughout 2022 and beyond?  

A: Our priority is to finalize the implementation of SIPCOS and its regulatory structure so that new investment can be generated as quickly as possible. The same applies to the development of a national system for short sea shipping routes. Building clear regulation and developing these projects further are our main priorities. We also want to keep our doors open to new port infrastructure development projects and assist those who might face bottlenecks.


The Mexican Chamber of the Marine Transportation Industry (CAMEINTRAM) is focused on fleet management, port administration, marine operations and terminal services, with a membership that includes all relevant private sector decision-makers.

Conal Quinn Conal Quinn Journalist & Industry Analyst