Jesús de la Garza
Director General
API Tamaulipas
View from the Top

Delays Can’t Stop Future Deepwater Hub

By Pedro Alcalá | Fri, 11/13/2020 - 11:27

Q: How did you adapt to the circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: Work at the port of Matamoros has not been interrupted during the pandemic. We are continuing with our maintenance dredging that should be completed by the end of November 2020. At which point we expect to see the port’s first operations.

The pandemic has actually bought us some time and has allowed to focus on reinforcing the security of our future operations such as developing our ISPS Code (Código PBIB), as well as working on all our environment procedures in our effort to maintain our sustainability and commitment to preserving our ecosystem. On the business development side, we have used these months to work closely with the port’s future customers to detail all their procedures and began operations as soon as we conclude work at the navigation channel and have final authorizations from the port authorities.

In addition, we have strengthened our relationships with other ports in the Gulf of Mexico, in both Mexico and the U.S. and we have even begun negotiations with the Port of Aberdeen in the U.K. to enter an M.O.U agreement in order to benefit from that ports vast experience in deep-water services.  

Q: How have you aligned your agenda with the recent development of Mexico’s deepwater sector?

A: The president of CNOOC and his team visited Mexico and came to Matamoros for a meeting with us and toured our port facilities around November 2019. The initial objective was to visit the Altamira port. I do not believe the Matamoros port was on their radar originally, although some members of their logistics team had heard about it. CNOOC is already in possession of Round 1 contracts for the deepwater development of fields in the Perdido Fold Belt area. CNOOC members were surprised to learn that the Matamoros port has a maritime terminal developed by Grupo R that could support their operations. What they told us at that time is that the formal launch of their exploration campaign was scheduled for the middle of 2020, and that they wanted to use the Matamoros port for the transfer and management of all equipment and personnel during these operations.

Obviously, like everything else in the oil and gas sector, these plans have had to be adjusted due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the oil price crisis. However, their interest in working with us has remained throughout this time. They have contacted Grupo R for their use of that terminal. In fact, Grupo R has been in touch with most deepwater operators and deepwater drilling companies to make sure that its terminal is ready to attend all of their needs. We are supporting the company with all its requirements, but it is making sure the port is ready for these oil and gas operations. At the same time, we are also dealing directly with some of the larger deepwater operators that have won these contracts such as BHP Billiton, which will be investing over US$11 billion in the development of its Mexican deepwater fields. The geographical context of the Matamoros port has made it the most attractive for all of these Perdido Fold Belt operators.

Q: How have you dealt with this government’s ongoing reorganization of ports?

A: We have been informed by the SCT of all the replacements and new employees for the coordination of ports and merchant marine. However, at an operational level, personnel and work practices have not changed and are continuing to function throughout this transition process. It should be clear to all APIs that the transferring of additional responsibilities to SEMAR will take place anywhere between three months to a whole year or even more. Throughout this transition, our relationship with the SCT has remained strong. We have made great progress in regard to the port´s operational rules and the approval of the executive project for the development of the terminal. Once deepwater operations become more complex and intricate, our relationship with SEMAR will strengthen.


API Tamaulipas’ primary function is to serve as a hub for economic development in northeastern Mexico, by providing quality port services for the oil and gas industry as well as cargo services. 

Pedro Alcalá Pedro Alcalá Journalist and Industry Analyst