José Julian Dip Leos
Puerto Altamira

All-Round Service Hub for the Upstream and Downstream

Wed, 01/25/2012 - 11:59

Located in Tamaulipas state, Altamira is Mexico’s biggest port for the handling of petrochemical liquid cargoes. 50 years ago, investments of over US$5.5 billion in the state by both national and international companies turned it into what became known as Mexico’s ‘petrochemical corridor’

Last year, 1,638 vessels passed through the port’s facility, a 12% increase from 2010. The port of Altamira handled 16.3 million tonnes of cargo in 2011, which represents an 11% increase compared to the year before. Petrochemical fluids were the number one cargo transported, at 5.1 million tonnes. Mineral bulk cargo made a significant jump last year, with the amount handled increasing by 24%. The Altamira port says this trend is expected to continue throughout 2012 as new clients chose the facility for the handling of their goods. An overall increase of activities is expected this year, with a forecast of 17.8 million tonnes handled during 2012, which would represent a 9% growth in comparison to 2011.

“Nowadays,” explains José Julian Dip Leos, Director of the Port of Altamira, “Tamaulipas is the most important producer of plastic resins in Mexico. More than two million tonnes are manufactured annually, representing 70% of the production capacity installed in the country. Also, 30% of all the private chemical and petrochemical production is generated in the Altamira region.” The main products include titanium dioxide (white pigment), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), terephthalic acid (TPA), terephthalate polyethylene (PET) and terephthalic dimethyl. 100% of the synthetic rubber production in Mexico originates in Altamira, making this corridor the biggest petrochemical cluster in Mexico.

Dip Leos goes on to explain the importance of this production for the port, as it provides a large portion of the overall cargo that passes through Altamira. Companies based at Altamira are connected directly to the fluid maritime terminals through underground ducts. After the raw materials are processed at the port, they are exported through containers, break-bulk terminals, by land or rail.

As well as petrochemical production, Altamira was also the first Mexican port to build an LNG terminal. Dip Leon explains that the terminal has been very positive for the port. “First, it was necessary to build new infrastructure. Expansion and dredging of the canal was imperative and would give us the ability to attend bigger vessels and to accommodate new businesses. Also, new global companies with enormous potential turn to see Altamira as a first-class port, and we show that we are able to develop complex and highly specialized projects as well.”

J. Ray McDermott chose Altamira as the location for its Mexican construction facility. The subsidiary of McDermott International was awarded a contract by Pemex in 2007 to build the Maloob-C drilling platform for the Ku-Maloob-Zaap field. This was the first project for the company’s facility in Altamira. This particular platform is constructed so as to be able to sustain 18 wells, with the goal of augmenting production at the KMZ field. J. Ray McDermott installed the platform in a water depth of 83m. In May 2011, the construction company won a Pemex contract to build and set up oil and gas pipelines in the Bay of Campeche. McDermott said that the Altamira yard was providing services to customers in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, and that cost eciency and space figured among the facility’s advantages for customers.

Dip Leos says the port is conscious that the industry demands the best infrastructure and security conditions. With that in mind, the port is expanding and dredging the main and north canal, and evaluating the market and convenience of having a ‘deep hole’, which would allow companies to test the strength and water tightness of oil platforms. He argues the deep hole will be a significant advantage to attract new business and oshore platform builders.

“Because of the available areas and extended room to grow, we can oer companies vast spaces to continue growing and developing new technologies at an unsurpassable location on the Gulf of Mexico, with access to a port that has a navigation canal deep enough for any kind of project.” The dredging in 2011 represented an investment of US$15.86 million and is meant to provide more security to vessels, as well as to enhance the possibility to receive larger ships.