Engineering Services Follow Infrastructure DevelopmentTue, 01/22/2013 - 13:47
OPC Engineering and Construction started its operations in 1964 doing port works at Coatzacoalcos – hence the name Obra Portuaria de Coatzacoalcos (Coatzacoalcos’ Port Works). Since being established, OPC has concentrated on serving the main industries at the port and in the surrounding region, which has meant focusing on the petrochemical market. Over the years, OPC has reached a strong position in the petrochemical segment, which has developed hand in hand with the port of Coatzacoalcos, one of Mexico’s main petrochemical ports. Though the company started its operations working mostly with private companies, Jorge Arboleya Pastrana, President of OPC, has seen this market becoming more complex in recent years, while the role of the private sector has grown. “The contracts for large petrochemical projects are structured in a way that makes it prohibitive for companies of our size to participate as a main contractor, placing us instead in a subcontracting role. Etileno XXI is a clear example: Braskem’s owner Odebrecht used its construction branch, which is associated with ICA Fluor and Technip, as a result, which left us to focus on subcontracting assignments,” he explains.
“As a result, OPC wants to partner directly with Pemex whenever possible, and has experience working with all four Pemex divisions. Although Pemex Petrochemicals has been the main division OPC has worked with, we also have experience with Pemex Gas and Basic Petrochemicals, and Pemex Exploration and Production, where we work in partnership with other companies such as Grupo Diavaz; the latter is an area where we want to increase our focus,” says Arboleya Pastrana. “We have also worked with Pemex Refining, but unfortunately as refinery packages have become increasingly large it has become more di·cult to access them. Nevertheless, we are gaining access this through subcontracting in the construction phase.”
Arboleya Pastrana also sees engineering projects for natural gas transportation as an area where OPC can apply its engineering expertise, especially in compression stations. “Although pipeline infrastructure is not our core market, it could evolve into an interesting niche market. While other companies may be more specialized in pipeline infrastructure projects, we could tackle these opportunities by working as a subcontractor for companies such as Grupo Diavaz, with whom we are currently working on the maintenance of pipelines in the port of Dos Bocas, and focusing on projects where we have a geographic advantage over companies from other parts of the country,” says Arboleya Pastrana. “Separators for the upstream oil and gas industry present another attractive opportunity for us, giving us an opportunity to work directly with Pemex.”
At the same time, OPC is preparing for increased competition from foreign companies entering the market. “We are expecting a surge of foreign companies to enter Mexico, and we will be both partnering and competing with them,” says Arboleya Pastrana. “Working as a subcontractor is not a problem, but it is essential to have sound controls that ensure that the contracting organizations meet their obligations towards their subcontractors. We will continue entering into partnerships or strategic alliances with large companies, like we have done with Ballast Nedam and Royal Boskalis Westminster, without excluding opportunities for cooperation with smaller companies, because every company has its specialties that can be used to help drive the development of our business and of Mexico. We also cooperate with Grupo Diavaz, which is a good example of a Mexican company that has become a strong and competitive company that can compete with the international players operating in the Mexican market. Nevertheless, the Mexican government should create incentives that enable more Mexican companies to invest in enhancing their competitiveness, and set clear boundaries that prevent incoming companies from negatively impacting the Mexican industry.”
According to Arboleya Pastrana, the coming years will be fundamental to strengthen the industry, with increased investment in infrastructure and continuing the infrastructure development strategy started during the last presidential term. “We saw the investment in infrastructure double, and our focus for the future, besides continuing to expand in the petrochemical segment and working with the dierent Pemex divisions, will be to concentrate on growing our E&P proficiency so that we can work directly with Pemex.”