Caio Zapata

Full Provision of Natural Gas Services

Wed, 01/31/2018 - 08:58

With the ever-increasing demand for natural gas in Mexico, companies are positioning themselves to take advantage and provide the supply. Caio Zapata, Director General of natural gas distributor Énestas, says companies must come up with more innovative transportation methods to capitalize on the new market. “We can reach any point in the country connected to a highway, railroad or accessible by sea,” he says. Instead of using what Zapata calls highly capital-intensive natural gas pipelines, Énestas uses wheels, ships and trains to reach any point its customer may require.
Zapata refers to Énestas as a company specialized in natural gas and highlights how the company provides its clients with complete solutions that can cover any need. This strategy, he says, has worked especially well for the industry because these kinds of users want to reduce their costs and emissions by switching their diesel or gasoline-based equipment to natural gas. Dealing with two companies, however, one for conversion and one for natural gas provision, is a hurdle. “Énestas offers equipment conversion — motors, boilers, burners and so on — from diesel or gasoline to natural gas, as well as the installation of new ones,” he says. “Once the conversion is complete, our expertise covers the whole range of distribution and storage services the customer will need to take the most advantage of its equipment.”
While offering the service of installing and converting natural gas equipment is at the core of Énestas’ industrial customers’ strategy, Zapata recognizes that the company is not an expert in that area and prefers to leave that activity to its partners. “Énestas works directly with OEMs to provide the highest quality in the conversion and installation of equipment,” he says. “This is a clear win-win partnership as OEMs increase their number of customers, Énestas offers natural gas to a bigger number of customers and companies are guaranteed that the conversion is performed by experts.”
The option of having a company like Énestas for the supply of natural gas is especially convenient for seasonal and intermittent consumers, Zapata says. “Our customers only pay for what they consume, compared to traditional contracts with companies using pipelines where a certain annual capacity has to be reserved and paid for, whether it is used or not,” he says. Énestas users cannot differentiate its provision from that coming from pipelines, and the former can even be more reliable than the latter, Zapata adds. “We are able to provide the client with up to 30 days of natural gas for storage,” he says. “Sometimes natural gas providers that use pipelines are not able to ensure the availability of supply due to factors such as pressure variations or problems in the pipes, meaning that our service offers a higher reliability to our customers.”
Vehicular Natural Gas (VNG) is another area of interest for Énestas. Beyond competing with most VNG companies that focus on the private and public transportation sectors, Énestas decided to tackle a niche for which it could offer a higher added value. “We focus on big transporters, such as interstate transportation buses, trucks, trains and even ships,” Zapata says. For that particular sector, Énestas does not work with compressed natural gas (CNG) but with liquified natural gas (LNG), which offers clear benefits to the customer. “For large transporters, the advantage of using LNG is clear: an LNG tank can store 2.4 times more gas than a CNG of the same volume, meaning that costs will reduce not only due to fewer tanks being needed, but also to the fact that the transportation unit weighs less,” he says. This allows Énestas to offer 500km coverage areas for the transportation units with only one tank.
With numerous successes under its belt, Énestas wants to spearhead a new business line in Mexico: vented gas. “Globally, 10-20 percent of the natural gas extracted from wells must be vented,” Zapata says. International regulation from agencies like the OECD state that 80-90 percent of the vented gas must be captured. “Besides being polluting, this process involves money being literally burned,” he explains. Helping companies not only comply with regulation but to take advantage of an asset that they were previously wasting, Énestas is working on a model to add to its success. “In our business model we buy the vented gas, so our presence is not only seen as a regulatory compliance step in the operators’ activities but actually as an added value,” Zapata says. “We then take care of everything, meaning that we install the equipment to capture the gas, process and distribute it.”