Raúl Huerta
Director General
ASIPONA Salina Cruz
View from the Top

Strategic Plan Targets Efficient Land, Maritime Interfaces

By Conal Quinn | Thu, 06/30/2022 - 14:37

Q: What are your investment plans for the year ahead? 

A: For 2022, the investment plans of the Salina Cruz National Port System’s Administration (ASIPONA) focus on actions that directly impact the Program for the Development of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, promoted by the federal government. These actions are the result of strategic planning that aims to make land and maritime interfaces operate more efficiently. Through the integration of the port of Salina Cruz, services will be provided for the Logistics Platform of the Interoceanic Multimodal Corridor, providing an efficient and competitive logistics network for the movement of goods and merchandise from the port of Salina Cruz to the port of Coatzacoalcos, in addition to safe and practical rail transport. The projected investment is primarily intended to construct new infrastructure as well as improving port services for ships and their cargo. The goal is to modernize the multipurpose facilities of the current commercial port and to develop a port for the oil and gas industry and other commercial endeavors.  

For the Commercial Hydrocarbons Port, the final work for the West Seawall will be resumed. Once complete, this will increase the number of operations that can be performed as well as the loading and unloading capacity for petroleum products. It will make the site safer for workers and reduce environmental risks. Furthermore, it will provide more shelter for containerized cargo and the sophisticated facilities designed for crude oil, petroleum products, ammonia and liquefied natural gas (LNG) operations.

In addition, the work scheduled for the modernization of the commercial port began with the contracting for dock reinforcement, which upon completion will increase the reception capacity of bulk carriers, general cargo and container ships. Likewise, it will provide the docks assigned for multi-use and containerized commercial cargo, with the necessary fortitude for construction dredging projected to reach 14m of horizontal depth. The work will also initiate the service operations for the Logistics Platform of the Interoceanic Multimodal Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec by 3Q22. 

Likewise, dredging for the construction of the navigation channel, the estuary’s expansion, the construction of the Traffic Regulatory Center and new access to the Commercial Port, as well as dirt roads for the first stage of the Specialized Container Terminal and dredging for construction of a combined steel bulkhead gate will also get underway.  


Q: What investment budget is your office working with?  

A: The investment budget set aside for the 2022 Annual Public Works Program is MX$3.72  billion (US$187.5 million). We already possess the rubber stamps for each project included in the 2022 Annual Public Works Program.

The resources to carry out the program are sourced entirely from the allocation of public resources processed by the Investment Division of the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP). The ASIPONA’s ordinary income is applied to the Annual Maintenance Program and the development of executive projects related to it. Currently, in coordination with SEMAR, resources are under management to carry out phase A of the Specialized Container Terminal at the Commercial Hydrocarbons Port. 


Q: What are the main institutional and infrastructure projects that are coordinated and executed through your office?

A: The main projects are the development of the Commercial Hydrocarbons Port and the modernization of the multipurpose facilities of the current port. 

We are in negotiations with the General Management of Ports and Maritime Trade, which in turn depends on the Ministry of the Navy (SEMAR), regarding the expansion of the port of Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, to guarantee the necessary reserves for the future development of the port. We also liaised with them to integrate public policies for the promotion of cabotage traffic, short sea shipping and maritime trade because of the lags identified in SEMAR’s industry program regarding ports and maritime trade. We intend to solve these issues and provide more safety, efficiency and effectiveness for Mexico’s ports. 

In coordination with the Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, ASIPONA Coatzacoalcos and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec Railroad, comprehensive work is being carried out toward the commissioning of the Logistics Platform.


Q: What are the main ways in which you are implementing private and foreign investment within your projects and development objectives? 

A: Currently, public investment is used for the construction of infrastructure and acquisition of port equipment for the handling of containerized goods and operations of oil and its derivatives. However, at some point, private sector participation will be required to develop specialized facilities and provide further services.


Q: What role are you playing in defining and fulfilling the port and marine development plans established by the government? 

A: My role as Director General is to direct the development plans to the best of my abilities. I consider it important to motivate my work team to perform optimally. This sets us on track to a port with greater efficiency, competitiveness and sustained growth. In a broader sense, I work to ensure that the government’s plans, through the ASIPONA, effectively contribute to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec’s development plan. This plan features an integral, sustainable and inclusive vision, promoting the economic, productive and cultural growth of the wider region. 


Q: What are the most important obstacles you have overcome since your appointment? 

A: That would be the pandemic, which delayed administrative procedures and the formalities necessary for the start of the projected works in 2021. The impossibility of fulfilling the planned commercial programs, particularly those related to the participation of the port in specialized, promotional events in its regional markets, has been another hurdle. Furthermore, the recurrence of social conflicts in the region has negatively impacted the development of the projects.  

To overcome these issues, we have always had the support of the three levels of government. Different agencies, through the flexibility of their procedures, have helped to minimize these negative effects. Likewise, thanks to the participation of different public agencies in the solution of social conflicts, these have been resolved through our collective efforts.


Q: What role do Mexico's ports and merchant marine play in the country's economic recovery and well-being? 

A: Ports and maritime trade represent a major strategic factor in our international and domestic trade, propelling Mexico's economic and commercial growth. Through our National Port System, important commercial exchanges are carried out with almost the entire world thanks to the strategic location of the Mexican territory. A great amount of merchandise that the population along the Mexican coasts of the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico consume is distributed via cabotage.

It is no coincidence that the ports of Salina Cruz and Coatzacoalcos are included in the recovery and welfare plans for southern Mexico. The main objective of the government’s flagship Program for the Development of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is to get this region out of its historical slump, enhancing the maritime trade activities that are developed along the Interoceanic Multimodal Corridor. 


Q: What are the most important links that your office and team are forging with the private sector? 

A: In coordination with the Isthmus of Tehuantepec’s Interoceanic Corridor organization, we are collaborating with maritime companies operating the main international trade routes in the Pacific Basin, with the commercial departments of embassies and through the business promotion offices of state governments and associations. With them, the ASIPONA is approaching potential users of services that will be provided at the logistics platform.  


Q: What role does international cooperation play in Mexico's port and marine development and how will this change going forward? 

A: International cooperation is one of the key elements toward Mexico's successful integration in world maritime trade routes. Our country is a member of the Organization of American States (OAS), which features the Inter-American Committee on Ports (CIP). As a governmental forum, this brings together all the National Port Authorities of the OAS member states and more than 50 members of the private and international sectors.

Recently, the head of the CIP said that Latin American countries face the challenge of evolving their ports technologically to overcome the digital gap that distances them from the world's major ports. He pointed out that the pandemic has accelerated several processes and has led to the daily integration of digital technology, precisely to avoid physical contact, reducing paperwork and face-to-face procedures to almost nothing. It has also helped solve the main challenge faced by the ports of the region: technological training at the highest level.

 In Mexico, we are on the road to attracting larger ships. To this end, we are developing the necessary infrastructure to receive state-of-the-art vessels, unload their goods for subsequent short-distance distribution within efficient and effective logistics chains. This will only become more competitive with the incorporation of information technologies and other innovative systems. 

International cooperation will be strengthened further. At the same time, it will facilitate the achievement of our own objectives and contribute to those of the other member countries, too.


ASIPONA Salina Cruz is a multimodal port located in the south of the Mexican Pacific that allows the fastest connection with the Atlantic Ocean through a 319km land bridge by road and 302km by rail, linking the traffic of goods through this corridor with the port of Coatzacoalcos.

Conal Quinn Conal Quinn Journalist & Industry Analyst