Luis Ocejo
Senior Managing Director of Maritime Business
Grupo TMM
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Opportunities for Service Diversification Inland

By Pedro Alcalá | Mon, 12/30/2019 - 09:00

Q: What percentage of Grupo TMM’s portfolio is represented by oil and gas services? 

A: Grupo TMM has been in the market for over 60 years, although we were not always focused on the energy sector. We have learned from various experiences and have adopted a broad approach to the business segments we serve. We ventured into the Mexican energy market in 1992 with two platform supply vessels (PSVs) working with PEMEX. That year, we also entered into the petrochemical transportation segment, from Houston to Mexico. The oil and gas shipping business now represents 80 percent of our activities. It has been a large jump from 10 percent to 80 percent and it plays a vital role in Grupo TMM’s income. On the port administration side, we believe there will be many changes that will boost the development of storage and inland transportation infrastructure. 

Q: What are the biggest concerns for shipping and transport service companies? 

A: Shipping activities took a hard hit from the 2014 crisis. The Mexican Chamber of the Maritime Transport Industry (CAMEINTRAM) has been working closely with the government to change the conditions in the sector. The crisis hit the sector so bad that half of the fleet were on standby and there was not enough work for  more than two years. Over 30,000 people lost their jobs, which in many cases were incredibly specialized. Most shipping companies had to restructure their debt to make it through those years. 

Q: How has Grupo TMM strengthened its financial situation and diversified its services to adapt to the changing market? 

Grupo TMM has proved that it can be efficient and can offer quality services at a competitive price. We are proving that the Mexican market is prepared to receive IOCs and that they do not need to look anywhere else for vessels . The company has been working arduously to strengthen its financial situation and in 2017, we successfully restructured our debt despite a difficult year. The change we made to diversify into the port business also has helped to boost the company’s results. Last year we almost doubled our results on a year to year basis. 

Q: What port and storage infrastructure is Grupo TMM developing to serve the oil and gas sector? 

A: We are investing in a terminal in Tuxpan with an initial capacity of 500,000 barrels. Apart from tanks, the terminal will also offer other port solutions. Another project is inland, close to Mexico City. We are looking to develop a tank terminal that will help distribute gasoline and diesel in central Mexico. 

Based on oil storage and distribution, the main facilities available  belong to PEMEX. There are very few private facilities and if we do not fill this gap soon, Mexico will face many problems. Grupo TMM believes that changing terminal approval processes is necessary and would lead to a big change in the sector. To obtain  the permits for developing storage infrastructure, you must go through various authorities, which can be tedious. 

Q: How is Grupo TMM working with PEMEX and what other services does it want to provide? 

A: We have been successful on the shipping side. We have four to five contracts with PEMEX and even though prices have dropped, we are happy to have our vessels at sea. We want to continue working with PEMEX but we also have set our sights on new players in the Mexican market. 

Grupo TMM provides not only vessels but many other services. For example, we have ample experience in logistics and stevedoring, including the transportation of goods and fiscal warehousing, plus maintenance and repair of seagoing containers. Grupo TMM also has a shipyard in Tampico that provides maintenance solutions to the offshore fleet (own and to third parties too). We want to optimize that space and provide a 360-degree service to the oil and gas companies in Mexico.

Pedro Alcalá Pedro Alcalá Senior Journalist & Industry Analyst