José Luis Alvarado
Director General
GPR Seguridad Privada
View from the Top

Security Provider Expands while Delivering Tranquility

Wed, 01/21/2015 - 15:20

Q: What has been the extent of GPR’s involvement in the Mexican oil and gas sector over the past few years?

A: GPR has four business areas, namely logistics security, electronic security, physical security, and personnel security, the latter of which has allowed us to participate in the oil and gas industry for clients such as Shell, BP, PEMEX, and CFE. For example, we have been providing Shell with a fixed service near Altamira and occasional personnel safety services across the Gulf of Mexico to Villahermosa. While we mostly provide personnel security services for Shell staff, we can also provide comprehensive solutions in case it needs to carry out an investigation or transfer goods. Our company has a strong organizational structure, with operational bases in Poza Rica and Coatzacoalcos, which allows us to provide our services to the entire oil and gas industry. In the rest of the country, GPR is present in the main spots of the so-called Golden Triangle, between Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey, as well as in Queretaro. These bases allow GPR to be close to the places where forwarding occurs, including Nuevo Laredo, Manzanillo, and Veracruz, from where we can offer integral solutions to our customers. GPR can offer tranquility and comfort to companies that come from abroad and do not know the particularities of the Mexican market.

Q: What changes has the Energy Reform brought about in the safety sphere?

A: Above all, it has brought us great expectations for growth. The Energy Reform will be a trigger for the economy, despite political overtones that could be seen as a barrier. The growth and diversification of the oil and gas sector will see a boom of companies that require security services at different scales, depending on the risk level and profile of the people coming in. We are prepared to offer both high-cost VIP security and low profile security. We can even integrate our services into a company’s day-to-day logistics while being practically invisible. Since the oil and  gas sector is opening up many possibilities, we will have to continue developing strategies to avoid attacks, robberies, kidnappings, or extortion of our clients’ personnel.

Q: How would you assess the level of risk facing companies working in the Mexican oil and gas sector?

A: This safety situation in Mexico is delicate due to the complexity of the country’s social and political spheres. There are security risks in Mexico, which is why many security companies are expanding to offer their services here. The level of risk for the oil and gas sector in Mexico is considerable since many oil fields are located in areas rife with organized crime. It is our duty to let companies know about these conditions and shield them against possible incidents. We do not confront organized crime but rather try to avoid it. For example, if insecurity is higher in Tampico than in Altamira, we advise that the staff be located in Altamira in order to avoid possible incidents. Aspects such as information analysis, safety planning, intelligence, and counterintelligence are fundamental to our job.

Q: What are the particular challenges of security companies when dealing with the oil and gas industry?

A: As locals and security experts, we are continuously learning as companies arrive from other countries. Our clients trust us to inform them about the country’s idiosyncrasies, cultural elements, and customs. All of these elements come into play, and, when fully understood, they allow companies to make more assertive decisions in terms of the safety of executives, their families, and their businesses. There are foreigners that are too afraid to work or invest in Mexico, which means that GPR takes on a great challenge in providing them with a feeling of tranquility. At first, many companies ask for more security than what is considered normal. After some time they realize that the situation is not as bad as they had perceived it, and their fear and distrust diminish. Ultimately, the hardest part of the job is to make people believe and trust in us as a security provider and leave everything in our hands.

Q: How does GPR measure the ethics and reliability of its security staff?

A: There are indicators we use to manage and control that aspect. We conduct periodic reviews that are known as trust certifications, consisting of socioeconomic studies and management of our internal ERP. These allow us to perfectly evaluate all our staff. GPR has around 1,000 members in its staff, and we have their fingerprint records and their general information. This information is reviewed and verified every six months. If we detect something odd in the behavior of a staff member, such as someone living far beyond their declared means, measures are taken. Nevertheless, people are our main working tool, so their development and training as well as their financial and emotional stability are very important to us.