Alfredo L. Sánchez Hevia
Director General
The Port Authority of Tuxpan

E&P Activity Approaches the Port of Tuxpan

Wed, 01/25/2012 - 15:40

“The mission of the port of Tuxpan is to offer efficient, secure and integrated services in an effective manner, supported by a port community that is committed to the development of the country and sensitive to the surrounding natural environment,” according to Alfredo L. Sánchez Hevia, Director General of the Port Authority of Tuxpan. This description will not easily differentiate the port of Tuxpan from neighbouring ports on the Gulf of Mexico such as Veracruz, Tampico and Altamira. Its competitive edge is based on geographic proximity to Mexico City and the availability of development land and growth ambitions that generally characterize young ports, Tuxpan opened for business only in 1994.

While the ports of Veracruz, Tampico and Altamira are separated from the country’s capital by over 400km of road, Tuxpan will be at only 270km after the upcoming completion of the Mexico-Tuxpan highway. This proximity undeniably provides the port with a competitive advantage in the distribution of goods to industrial regions as well as Mexico’s main production and consumption centres. As a multipurpose port, Tuxpan not only handles general cargo but also has a growing prominence as a hub for bulk ore, agricultural bulk, liquids, containers, oil and its derivatives. Despite the fact Mexico suffered a decrease in international trade and cargo volume, Tuxpan’s total cargo turnover reached 11.02 million tonnes in 2011, surpassing the 10.45 million tonnes it managed in 2010. At the moment, Tuxpan is looking to develop a dock for the handling of general and containerized cargo, which will require an estimated US$250 million investment. This will promote the port’s commercial activity by boosting the operation of regular routes for maritime transportation services and enabling a more efficient transfer for cargo.

The bulk of its traffic lies in the loading and unloading of oil derivatives. It is the main entrance for the imported fuels - mainly gasoline and diesel - that are consumed in Mexico City and its surrounding metropolitan area, as well as in the Bajío region. Port of Tuxpan features four monobuoys that are controlled by Pemex Refining and capable of handling 10 million tonnes of fuel and 12 million tonnes of other products per year. In 2011, the Tuxpan handled 9.8 million tonnes of petroleum cargo alone.

Despite the new highway and the large amount of  available development land that can be offered to companies, it will be a challenge for the port to establish itself as a prime location for the oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico: Tampico and Altamira are deeply involved in the construction and production of platforms and related large offshore infrastructure, while Tuxpan only recently entered the competition and does not yet have the infrastructure and critical mass to match its neighbours.

Nevertheless, in 2009, Swecomex, part of Carlos Slim Helú’s Grupo Carso, developed and built the Independencia I jack-up rig at Tuxpan. It was the first Mexican-built jack-up and represented an attempt to enter the global competition to commercialize and rent these rigs. In 2011, Tuxpan also welcomed the Bicentenario, a semi-submersible rig built at a South Korean shipyard, which will play an important role in Pemex’s deepwater campaign. It is currently on its way to begin drilling in the deepwater Perdido folded belt near the US maritime border.

“The port of Tuxpan offers efficient services by modernizing and increasing its installed capacity in order to provide service for drilling platforms,” Hevia said. “We are also looking to increase investment in facilities, because an increasingly important activity in the port is the construction and repair of oil rigs dedicated to exploration and oil extraction activities.”

Veracruz shows its deepwater potential

Veracruz state was home to three hydrocarbon discoveries in 2011. Pemex’s Nen-1 well, located offshore Catemaco, turned up a large deposit of natural gas, but it was the Piklis-1 discovery in May 2011 that was Pemex’s biggest find in the region. Located 144km from the port of Coatzacoalcos, Pemex drilled Piklis-1 in 1,928m of water to a total depth of 5,431m. It was the first well drilled with the semi-submersible Bicentenario platform. However, regardless of the potential of these wells, the deposits pose the same problem as many of the deposits in Veracruz for the reason that their extensive depth ensures that the extraction of oil and gas will come at very high cost.

The most recent discovery was Pukson-1, a deposit made up of carbonated rocks located 61km from the port of Tuxpan. Pukson-1 holds potentially significant reserves at drilling depths of 7,000m and 7,445m. Upcoming exploratory activity approaching the deepwater area around Tuxpan is destined to give another push to the positioning of the port of Tuxpan in the mind of the offshore oil and gas industry.