Gustavo Monterrubio
General Manager

Localized and Customized Chemical Solutions

Wed, 01/22/2014 - 12:16

After several years seeking to make a meaningful presence for itself in the Mexican oil and gas market, Grupo Transmerquim (GTM) refocused its efforts upon seeing that new industrial demands had given rise to a need for new chemical solutions. “We decided our task was to find the best chemical solutions provided by global manufacturers and be the ones to introduce them to the Mexican market,” tells Gustavo Monterrubio, General Manager of GTM Mexico. But the firm does not just look outside Mexico’s borders, it also works with local providers that can assist with particular product lines. Although GTM’s product catalog is balanced across all segments of the oil and gas industry, it has found more work came its way when focusing on the upstream segment. Opportunities in this area, says Monterrubio, come from the need to maintain and even increase the national oil production levels of 2.5 million b/d. The midstream sector has also proved to be profitable, GTM tends to be more active on the operational side than the construction process. Monterrubio mentions flow optimization as an example of a service GTM provides, given its ability to improve pipelines with anti-corrosion products. Alan Michaan, former General Manager of GTM Oil & Gas Mexico and current Oil & Gas Division Manager of Grupo Transmerquim, explains how the evolution of GTM’s product portfolio was not necessarily focused on a particular sector but rather on a sense of product line specialization. “We started by adding other products with a higher degree of specialization. For example, we already offered barite for drilling mud, so it was only normal to also offer the xanthan gum that goes with the barite in the mud. Whereas a tonne of barite is US$200 or so, a tonne of xanthan gum is selling for US$6,000. So, that is an easy way to create value using your vehicle, like the barite in this case, to introduce new products.”

One of the more innovative aspects of its business is the way in which GTM designs its distribution processes in order to anticipate the needs of its clients without straying from market prices, as Michaan points out. “We are not traders. We do not gamble on the product or the price, we buy at market price and sell at market price. If we have a contract that requires keeping prices fixed for six or twelve months, we need to pre-buy our product or have back-to-back contracts with our suppliers.” Unfortunately, this means that GTM’s operations are surrounded by tight margins and deadlines at the same time. In order to keep exploring options to provide tailored solutions, the company is working on two chemical R&D centers in Argentina and Colombia while also cooperating with users at the local level to develop tailored solutions. “At a later date, we are interested in having a R&D center in Mexico to better service this market. We know we are capable of developing the best solutions locally because we know the Mexican market and the needs of our clients. GTM is seeking various partnerships for local technological development with the objective of becoming the main supplier for its allies,” says Monterrubio. If everything goes according to plan, the research center should be a reality within five years. R&D centers are also an important part of working for the downstream sector. “When you supply a product to a refinery or a gas plant, you have to be able to do simulations, quality analysis of the product after it has been used, and service visits to make sure that your product is running properly. It is a big investment, and a different model, and it makes sense for that sector. So we entered that market a couple of months ago, and we have already been successful here in Mexico, because the Mexican downstream business is huge compared to any other country in the region, apart from Brazil and Venezuela,” says Michaan

Building such a research center is part and parcel of GTM’s plans to consolidate its presence in the region. It also has plans to build two new operating facilities in the country. This will contribute to achieving GTM’s targets for the Mexican market. As Michaan points out, an extended presence is an important part of establishing a successful distribution net: “One of the success factors is being close to the customers.There is no way you can be based in Mexico City and assume that you will be able to provide same-day delivery for someone in Reynosa or Villahermosa. As Monterrubio concludes, “we believe that this country has a great growth potential in the various segments of the oil and gas industry. We will follow the Energy Reform’s development to see how opportunities come up within our business lines that also include pharmaceutical, automotive, mining, and cleaning products alongside oil and gas.”