Luis Ocejo Rodríguez
Senior Managing Director of Maritime Transportation
Grupo TMM
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View from the Top

Future of the Mexican Shipbuilding and Maintenance Industry

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 12:56

Q: What were the highlights of 2012 for Grupo TMM?

A: The project where we achieved the most progress is the shipyard in Tampico. Our goal was to increase the capacity of the yard and expand into other areas such as construction and maintenance for larger vessels. It was a di· cult year, but we were successful in advancing our maintenance capabilities for o† shore vessels, we delivered a rescue and salvage vessel for Pemex, we also successfully modifi ed our DP2 and FIFI2 vessels, and got our rescue and salvage certifi cation. We are very proud of all these achievements because they were accomplished at our Tampico shipyard using Mexican labor, which proves Mexico’s ability to move forward and create a competitive shipbuilding industry.

Q: If Mexico has strong shipbuilding capacity, why is Pemex awarding contracts to foreign companies?

A: Pemex is awarding shipbuilding contracts to foreign companies because the Mexican shipbuilding industry does not have enough experience, but since the industry is consolidating through the Mexican Chamber of Industrial Shipping (Camin), I feel we are moving in the right direction. Mexico has not been building vessels for a long time, so it was an easy decision for Pemex to go to Spain for the production of its ships. We feel we have the capacity to build vessels that meet Pemex’s needs, so it is only a matter of time before they start awarding contracts to Mexican shipyards. Based on my shipbuilding experience as a naval architect, I believe that we have enough specialized people and the capacity to succeed in the shipbuilding industry; we just need an opportunity to prove ourselves.

Q: What are the main competitive advantages Mexican shipyards could have over international shipbuilders?

A: Right now we do not have many advantages. International shipbuilders have much more experience and knowledge in shipbuilding. Our only advantages are that the new government will be interested in creating jobs and obtaining taxes from the industry, which will create work for us. The second advantage is that we have been working with Pemex for years, so we know exactly what they want and what they need with regard to equipment, technology, and safety requirements.

Q: What role will the creation of Camin play in reviving and strengthening the Mexican shipbuilding industry? A: The most important thing is to unite the industry and have one voice: to work as a single group. If we succeed in this, it will be a great step forward for the Mexican shipbuilding industry. Regarding the main points of the Camin agenda, we are trying to fi nd out what shipyards exist in Mexico and what production capacity they have. Secondly, we have to work on fi nding fi nancial support for the industry. It is very hard for Mexican shipyards to get any type of funding because the industry is just starting to take o† , but if we sign contracts with Pemex we would defi nitely fi nd the necessary fi nancial support. This matter is being discussed in order to prepare the industry for future opportunities, since it will be hard to get any contracts without fi nance, and vice versa. There have been some changes in the law that have already increased the amount of money banks can guarantee, and they seem to be less skeptical about the shipbuilding industry, since they are apparently more willing to fi nance our shipyard activities.

Q: What would be the impact of this revival for the Mexican economy? And what areas would benefi t the most?

A: We do not have any data on the exact number of jobs that could be created, but we are working on that to produce a report. The regions that will benefi t the most are those on the Gulf of Mexico, more specifi cally Tampico, Veracruz, and probably Coatzacoalcos. On the Pacifi c coast I think the main port that will profi t is Mazatlán and maybe Ensenada, but the Gulf Coast will benefi t the most, since moving ships from the Pacifi c to the Gulf is very expensive.

Q: What will be the role of Grupo TMM in bringing new technologies and further developing national content?

A: First of all, the knowledge we acquire from Pemex will play an extremely important role. Also, our dealings with companies abroad, the reputation we have in Mexico, and the fact that we are fi nancially stable allows us to be at the forefront of Mexico’s shipbuilding development. I strongly believe that 2013 will be a prosperous year for Mexico, for shipyards and for Grupo TMM; we are extremely excited about all the opportunities coming our way.