Marcelo Mereles
Rodrigo Favela
Rodrigo Favela

A Different Approach to Oil Consulting

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 14:44

As a new company in the fluid Mexican oil and gas environment, HCX is looking to introduce a fresh approach to the energy business and go “beyond traditional consultancy to stand at the crossroads between consulting and project execution and development,” says Marcelo Mereles, one of the company’s three founding partners.

HCX, which stands for HydroCarbon Exchange, was created in 2016 to help companies seize the opportunities emerging from the Energy Reform. As new companies and already established players begin to expand their presence in Mexico, the trio, which also includes Rodrigo Favela and Máximo Hernández, saw the opportunity for a more detailed and hands-on approach to consultancy. The goal was to branch out into services as diverse as commodity trading, representing high-tech solutions and providing temporary staff for projects.

The firm’s portfolio of services reaches deep into the oil and gas value chain, from providing valuation and risk analysis on upstream projects, to advising companies on logistics solutions for downstream endeavors. The HCX partners say the company can support clients that are embarking on projects in the newly opened hydrocarbons industry, even with projects that may be the first of their kind in the country.

HCX is also willing to partake in the risks of untested markets. “HCX aims to align itself with our clients’ interests,” Mereles says. “For that reason we charge as little as possible at the beginning of a project and instead are willing to receive most of our payment upon full completion of the project.” 

HCX’s ability to successfully accompany a project to full completion is bolstered by its founding partners’ varied experience. With an accumulated history of around 65 years in the Mexican oil and gas industry and two PEMEX veterans in its ranks, HCX’s partners bring a wealth of local expertise to the table. With many IOCs expected to arrive in Mexico with their own international consultancy firms in tow, specialized Mexican knowledge could be HCX’s main competitive advantage. “Although the new companies are experienced in operating activities, they require somebody who understands the challenges, bottlenecks and opportunities specific to the Mexican market,” Mereles points out. “The devil is in the details, and a shallow analysis of the new laws will not be enough to guarantee success.”

HCX is familiar with the government stakeholders, decisionmakers and the people who do the real background work in the institutions, Favela adds, making HCX a good choice for new companies seeking a ready-made network of market players.

  As well as offering valuable local know-how, HCX is capable of providing companies with highly trained personnel through its Field Personnel Resources platform. Mereles explains that the service offers prospective employers “an Airbnb-style recruitment model,” allowing them to hire staff on a temporary basis. He predicts that a new focus on efficiency and the prevailing market uncertainty will lead to increased demand for a flexible, temporary workforce that companies can easily modify in case of downturns.

Field Personnel Resources answers this demand by supplying highly trained personnel that can be hired by the hour, week or month, Mereles adds. The system is active in West Texas but will be adapted to Mexican market conditions before being rolled out in the country. As well as the obvious benefits of providing an adjustable labor force, the system could also “help companies comply with local content rules more effectively,” Favela says. 

HCX’s wide arsenal of services and expertise allows the company to target a large potential client base. “Our ideal client falls into two categories,” Favela says. “Mexican companies that need help getting into the market and international companies that need help partnering up.”

The untouched territory ahead does not faze them, according to Mereles. “HCX wants to help develop innovative projects that may be the first or second of their kind.”