Luis Ocejo Rodríguez
Senior Managing Director of Maritime Transportation
Grupo TMM
View from the Top

Change in the Mexican Shipping Services Sector

Wed, 01/25/2012 - 14:14

Q: Pemex is currently embarking on a fleet modernization programme. How has this impacted Mexico’s private shipping sector?

A: One of our main objectives as a shipping company focused on the oil and gas industry is to charter our ships to Pemex. We are working hard with Pemex and Congress to convince them that it is not really the best strategy for Pemex to own all its own vessels. Most oil and gas companies around the world use a mix of charter ships and owned ships. In this way, when production drops, they can release vessels and reduce their costs. We cannot say that we have already convinced them, but it seems as if they are on the right track.

Pemex often complains that hiring vessels can be an expensive process, but, in fact, we offer Pemex a cheaper alternative to owning and operating vessels. Since this is our core business, we operate more efficiently. The only cost of hiring a vessel is the charter rate, while buying a vessel involves the cost of financing the purchase and operating of the vessel, including expenses such as crew and maintenance.

Q: How are you working to develop your fleet to maintain your position as a partner to Pemex?

A: We have frequent meetings with Pemex executives, and based on those we look at their development programmes and adjust our fleet development strategy accordingly. For example, three years ago we implemented a large fleet expansion based on the programme we received from Pemex. Sometimes we have the opportunity to help them shape their strategy, but high turnover of personnel at the decision-making level makes gaining any influence extremely challenging.

Q: How are you working to stay in line with the continuously updated offshore safety standards?

A: It seems Pemex is introducing new working procedures or rules for contractors to follow on a daily basis, so we are used to working in evolving conditions. The introduction of the latest safety standards has come fairly quickly, as the last change was only introduced two years ago. Now we have brand new standards, which incorporate aspects of safety regulation, ISO standards and ASTM standards.

Pemex recognizes Grupo TMM as a contractor operating with the highest possible standards for safety and administration. Maintaining this position in a constantly evolving environment is a costly process, but we want to continue to follow Pemex’s high standards in order to maintain our partnering position with them. However, we do feel that Pemex should introduce more incentives for maintaining such rigorous safety standards. If companies that follow the highest safety standards had access to more partnering opportunities with Pemex, then it would improve the overall safety standards of the industry. At the moment, all companies are evaluated equally in tenders regardless of their safety certification, which we think is not the best approach to fostering a safer industry.