Growing Port Prepares to Meet Growing Energy NeedsWed, 01/22/2014 - 16:47
According to Jorge Ruiz Ascencio, Director General of Integral Port Administration Tuxpan (API Tuxpan), his port is more than a strategic hub for the oil and gas industry. “It is the most important port in Mexico for the energy sector, as it imports between 45% and 50% of the fuels consumed in the country. These include high and low octane gasolines, ultra-low diesel gasolines, fuel oil, and additives such as methyl tert-butyl ether that are transported to the highland region of central Mexico to improve gasoline combustion. The petroleum-based products and fuels imported through the Port of Tuxpan cover 96% of the demand in the country’s central region, including industrial hubs in Mexico City, the State of Mexico, Hidalgo, Puebla, Morelos, and Queretaro.”
Ruiz Ascencio indicates that the substantial installed storage and distribution capacity of API Tuxpan comes from PEMEX having a storage terminal able to hold 2.2 million barrels, which is currently being expanded to a capacity of 2.7 million barrels. To address capacity and security issues, API Tuxpan is considering an increase in the capacity of the navigation channel to improve productivity in the container terminal and support the discharge of petroleumbased products at tow docks located in the river. “If we can achieve better connectivity throughout this process, we will have more terminals and services. The incoming freeway and infrastructure works pushed by the Ministry of Communication and Transportation will also help detonate Tuxpan’s economic development, creating unprecedented economic opportunities for the region,” tells Ruiz Ascencio.
The Federal Government’s infrastructure expansion plan for Mexico’s port system highlights the importance of complementary developments between the ports in the Gulf of Mexico and on the Pacific coast. Ruiz Ascencio believes that finding the right synergy between the ports will enhance the system’s competitiveness in terms of receiving, storing, transporting, and transforming products for distribution within Mexico. “The concept of a national port system implies that ports should stop competing with each other and take advantage of their unique characteristics to compete with their international counterparts,” he explains. He highlights the clear differences between Veracruz, a large port with a railway system that enables it to handle significant volumes of containerized cargo and agricultural bulk cargo efficiently across great distances, and Tuxpan, a medium-sized port that will set off its specialized cargo distribution capacity once a 270km freeway to the State of Mexico is finished. API Tuxpan is currently considering building a plant to mix and supply bunker fuel to be used aboard cargo ships. “This would be an advantage as large ships that need fuel could take advantage of the river’s depth to enter the port, load fuel, turn around, and leave. The main tank, pumps, and the mixing system could be built on land under the port’s jurisdiction in order to create self-supply infrastructure, which currently does not exist in Tuxpan,” explains Ruiz Ascencio.
“In parallel, we want to promote the creation of logistic parks in the port so that Tuxpan can become a more diversified option than previously thought. The Port of Tuxpan has the ability to supply enough equipment, personnel, and logistical support for activities in the oil and gas industry’s deepwater segment,” says Ruiz Ascencio. API Tuxpan, alongside PEMEX, has analyzed the possibilities of becoming more involved in the deepwater sector, since Tuxpan is located at a reasonable distance from Mexico’s deepwater developments. “Expanding the port’s logistical capabilities to serve this market is considered as highly feasible from an infrastructure perspective, as Tuxpan has three terminals specialized in the construction and repair of metal-mechanical components,” says Ruiz Ascencio. Construcciones y Equipos Latinoamericanos is specialized in manufacturing marine platforms, vessel maintenance and repair, as well as maintenance for industrial complexes. This company has 200m of waterfront and three 13ft draft berths. Desguaces Metálicos Relaminables has 200m of berth that enables it to provide marine services and repairs, as well as holistic project management. Finally, Operadora CICSA, belonging to Grupo Carso, is dedicated to the construction and repair of drilling rigs and production platforms. This company has 300m of waterfront, 18ft draft berths, two mooring positions, and two construction sleeves.
As an anchor for future development, Ruiz Ascencio encourages the strengthening of the ties between the port and the city. “The city’s social and cultural environment will greatly influence the port’s productivity in terms of healthcare, education, safety, and employment. Ten years from now, Tuxpan could become a thriving, industrialized city with significant infrastructure and an important logistics capacity. However, we have to begin working on that now. Otherwise, Tuxpan could become a chaotic urban center with serious social issues, income inequality, and insufficient resources,” he warns. “The port’s expansion can certainly detonate the city’s economy, but this has to be done in a careful fashion to ensure that everyone reaps the benefits.”