Salvador Cáceres
Director General
H&R Naviera
View from the Top

Port Clearance Procedures Need an Upgrade

Tue, 01/21/2020 - 17:49

Q: How are your operations spread over the different ports in the Gulf of Mexico?

A: Our main office is in Ciudad del Carmen. However, we are present in almost every important port in the Gulf. Dos Bocas and Coatzacoalcos also are two major operations for us. We also have offices in the ports of Veracruz and Tampico. Our primary task is to handle everything that is needed in the process of embarking and disembarking goods. We handle logistical operations at the port, but also transport large structures between ports. Despite being relatively small compared to our competitors, we can provide the tools to carry out what is necessary. Currently we are not performing any services in Tampico, but there are interesting potential projects to move structures with tugboats. In Coatzacoalcos, we are working with PETRONAS on a deepwater drilling project, attending to all their needs, including logistics and customs procedures. In Dos Bocas, we are providing maintenance services to PEMEX units, in addition to moving structures for other clients.

Q: What is your experience working with port authorities?

A: For the most part, we have always been treated well by the authorities and have not faced any problems. The kind of environment you operate in very much depends on the type of port. I can describe two types: a fiscal port and an offshore port. Ciudad del Carmen, Dos Bocas and Seybaplaya are considered offshore ports, while Veracruz and Coatzacoalcos are fiscal ports. The difference is that fiscal ports have a significant volume of operations that involve import and export of units.

For example, Veracruz processes large numbers of cars that arrive to or depart from the country. In the case of imports, they are loaded onto trains and delivered to the US and Canada. Coatzacoalcos processes many oil company units arriving from abroad. What this means for both ports is that the customs operations tend to be slower and more complex. For us, as logistical agents to our clients, customs are vital. Everything has to be perfectly orchestrated. If goods are being imported, they need to be processed and receive proper approval. If they are already approved before arriving at the port, they need to be verified. At offshore ports, the companies in question already tend to have the necessary approvals. This makes the operations easier and faster.

Q: With respect to customs, what are the main risks?

A: The principal risk is financial losses due to delays. Once a unit arrives at a port, especially from abroad, it has to go through a whole series of procedures. These involve different parties at the port, from customs agents to the harbormaster. Apart from receiving documentation, we need to organize a payment at the local bank. At every stage, a document is provided that needs to be presented to the next party. Once the necessary procedures are fulfilled, we can start moving things.

The departure of units needs to be scheduled with the harbormasters and its timing depends on other activities going on at the harbor. The back and forth circulation of documentation to the authorities that is currently required for clearance is not optimal. For us, the principal objective is that units are not kept in the ports under any circumstances. It costs thousands of dollars to operate a boat for a client. In addition, these boats carry vital components for platforms. If an operation is stalled due to missing components, it can cost a company up to US$130,000 a day. It is important to always keep this in mind.

Q: How do you prevent delays from happening?

A: Communication is key to avoid confusion and achieve the optimal schedule. You need to be aware of who is coming and going at the port. This means our logistics department is in constant communication with the client and the harbormaster. We are practically partners. Clients are generally very demanding, which means everything needs to be prepared perfectly.

H&R Naviera is a logistics agency with offices in Ciudad del Carmen. It conducts operations in the Gulf of Mexico. It specializes in providing services in customs clearance, maintenance, structures transportation, loading and offloading of units.