José Luis Zúñiga
President of the Tabasco Energy Commission

Tabasco Prepares to Strengthen Its Supply Chain

Wed, 01/20/2016 - 11:35

When talking about Mexico’s oil and gas states, Tabasco is one of the names that top the list. In fact, 13 out of the 17 municipalities that form the state have oil and gas reserves, and approximately 70% of the national production is linked to Tabasco, so without a doubt, it plays a key role in the hydrocarbon sector. Given the importance of the oil and gas industry in this state’s economic activity and the fact that this will increase due to the implementation of the Energy Reform, COPARMEX created the Tabasco Energy Commission to strengthen the state’s supply chain. “COPARMEX forms specialized commissions in each state with the objective of connecting and developing the local private industry. For the oil and gas sector, the association participates in a round table organized by CNH, representing the industrial sector before regulators and other decision-makers. Following its mission, COPARMEX created the Tabasco Energy Commission to help SMEs seize business opportunities with the winners of Round One,” explains José Luis Zúñiga, President of the Tabasco Energy Commission.

The Energy Commission will help companies detect opportunities and adjust to the emerging business models in the country. The first thing the Commission will do to help SMEs, stresses Zúñiga, is help them meet the new industry standards that will be required for contracting. “The Energy Reform poses a 25% local content requirement per contract, which will be a considerable advantage for the companies we work with. However, operators and large firms are clear when it comes to standards, so we are aware that we have to strengthen this market to allow it to meet the new requirements.” He points out that some of the required standards will be ISO, SOSHA, or NOM certifications, but additionally, some companies will have to certify their internal processes according to the nature of their activities. The main limitation for certifications is the costs, and many SMEs lack the capacity to pay for them. To help them overcome this barrier, the Tabasco Energy Commission is presenting an integrated plan to the government whereby the Commission can certify companies depending on their type and activities.

Investments are not limited to obtaining certifications, as Tabasco-based companies also have to consider employee training and capacity building, as well as the purchase of new equipment in their budgets. Zúñiga explains that the federal and the state government have a series of instruments through the Ministry of Economy and the National Entrepreneur Institute, where there are initiatives that support companies in terms of training, technology, and consultancy. The Energy Commission is already helping businesses access these resources.

A well-recognized problem in the oil and gas industry is the coming drought of qualified personnel. Fortunately, the Energy Commission is composed of many former PEMEX employees who train groups of engineers, leveraging on their specialized and sophisticated knowledge. “We see the coming high demand for qualified personnel as excellent news. We want this workforce to come from Tabasco, and our role is to promote this talent. In order to achieve this objective, the Energy Commission is working closely with universities so that our engineers can help them tailor their programs to the industry’s real needs,” Zúñiga shares.

Helping companies obtain access to financial mechanisms and certifications is only part of the journey in helping SMEs improve their competiveness. The Energy Commission will also help Tabasco-based companies by organizing a series of events, including the Petroleum Forum, where service providers and suppliers can meet potential clients. In addition, the Commission also has monthly meetings with an official who is directly linked with the hydrocarbon industry, and local companies can approach him to understand firsthand the requirements and learn what business model is most appropriate to follow.

At the moment, Zúñiga says the Commission is providing training and consultancy services to get the gears moving for Tabasco companies. He acknowledges that Tabasco had previously lacked an Energy Commission in spite of being a prominent player in the Mexican oil and gas industry. “The Energy Commission was created as a result of all the changes and reforms that the country is undergoing, so the time was just right,” he states. Zúñiga’s main objective during his first year of tenure is to ensure that companies in Tabasco secure business opportunities with operators. He concludes, “I want the SMEs from Tabasco to have the opportunity to make contacts within the national and international industry, and that is what the Energy Commission will work on as Round One evolves.”