Roberto de la Garza Licón
Director of Port Authority
Dos Bocas

Port of Dos Bocas: The Challenge of Logistics

Wed, 01/22/2014 - 13:08

In February 2013, the port of Dos Bocas reached a milestone in its operational history by welcoming Elegant Sky, the biggest merchant vessel to ever dock at its piers. The vessel had a cargo of 3,900 tonnes of pipe for a rig that is under construction by Grupo Evya, at its specialized terminal. “It makes us proud that the Elegant Sky, a vessel of such dimensions, can now dock at Dos Bocas,” states Roberto de la Garza Licón, Director of Port Authority of Dos Bocas. “It means we are opening ourselves to a new market. Before, vessels of such dimensions would have to go to Altamira, one of the biggest ports in Mexico, to unload their cargo, which would then have to be transported by land.” Reaching such a milestone has brought new goals and challenges. “We cannot stall, we have to keep growing; the Elegant Sky, being 189.94m long, is at the size limit that the port can accommodate. We have to develop additional infrastructure to be able to receive bigger vessels and open Dos Bocas to a whole di†erent market. Our target right now to expand our capacity to be able to accommodate vessels of up to 200-210m in length,” De la Garza Licón explains.

Last year, the port experienced vertiginous growth, mostly due to the completion of its multipurpose dock. Before its conclusion, the port was saturated with about 98% occupancy, but the new dock lowered this to around 65%. De la Garza Licón believes it still is not an optimal situation – which would be 45-55% – but it is an achievement. The second pier enabled the Port Authority of Dos Bocas to diversify operations and cargo, and now it is planning a third pier. The port’s core business is still the oil and gas industry, but the multipurpose dock has enabled it to diversify its commercial activities. Dos Bocas has become a commercial outlet for other Tabasco products, such as sugar exports.

The first phase of the 70 hectare oil-related industrial park was finished last year, which involved the multipurpose dock. Currently, the second phase is underway. It involves the completion of a 5MW electrical substation – with a federal government investment of US$3.015 million (MX$40 million) – that will guarantee energy access for the companies in the industrial park. However, the biggest challenge is connectivity between the industrial park and the port. “Distance is not an issue,” De la Garza Licón explains. “Our aim is to connect both through a railway that does not have weight or volume limitations. This is where the synergy between both projects dwells. The companies that do not use the dock intensively, or that support related activities, can be located in the industrial park and, at the same time, be self-su·cient and have access to all services. This strategy will expand activities and help us avoid saturation in both the terminal and the land around it.”

De la Garza Licón believes 2013 will be a complicated year in terms of the port’s internal logistics due to the number of operations, clients they are currently serving, and prospective customers. A good example is Grupo Evya, a port concessionaire who is building rigs and is employing an average of 1,000 workers. The logistics needed to satisfy their needs are quite a challenge in terms of operations, personnel transportation, and management. “We have to be e·cient with our infrastructure to avoid hurting our clients’ competitive advantages,” he adds. Seabed stabilization is also an important issue. So far the port has moved 300,000 tonnes of mud, but it still is a work in progress.

De la Garza Licón has a long-term vision about the work being done at the Port of Dos Bocas: “We have created and developed new infrastructure. However, it is not just about growth, but about growing in an orderly fashion. Today, we are planting the seed for the future,” he emphasizes. “It is not a job for the next two years but for decades and generations to come. We have to be careful and not replicate the mistakes made in older Mexican ports, which, due to lack of planning and a long-term vision, were encased by the service providers, making further expansion impossible. Our goal is to work together in constructing and planning for future needs and challenges.” The port’s main concern is accommodating its clients and organizing all the port activities to optimize e·ciency and competitiveness. “Our competitiveness lies in e†ective logistics, which in turn, will make our clients more competitive and e·cient. We owe them that because they bet on us when they decided to become our partners,” de la Garza Licón concludes.