Claudia Barrera
National Energy Entrepreneurs Council
View from the Top

Unity a Tool for Local Development

Tue, 01/21/2020 - 19:40

Q: What were the circumstances behind the formation of institutions such as the National Energy Entrepreneurs Council and the Tabasco Energy Cluster?

A: The Energy Reform jump-started a process that defined the direction Tabasco’s private sector would take. In earlier days, we would divide our companies by specific services offered, in part to facilitate contracting processes with PEMEX and other major entities that focused on each service individually. In contrast, the Energy Reform introduced a focus on larger and more complex integrated service contracts. For entrepreneurs, there are limits to material, financial and human resources. As these larger contracts spilled over the US$100 million threshold, it became increasingly difficult for us to make a bid and participate directly in the oil industry’s new projects. We were also limited in terms of certifications as well as technological assets. Tabasco entrepreneurs like us decided to unite and create these larger organizations where we could pool our resources and not merely be simple subcontractors of larger service providers. In October 2017, 23 companies formed the National Energy Entrepreneurs Council. At the time, Tabasco was in an economic slump. From 2013 to 2019, my construction company went from having 400 employees down to only 20. We began organizing events and discussing scenarios that could help companies understand the global context of the industry and the standards that had to be met by our operations. We contracted a team of lawyers to assist us with legal requirements and to help us determine the best certifications, which would aid us to compete in bidding rounds for larger contracts. Together, we wanted to create an agenda that would contribute to the state’s industry development. One of our chief concerns was technological development. Considering that most technologies are imported into Mexico, that placed us at a serious operational and financial disadvantage that still needs to be solved.

Q: How do you integrate local companies into these developments?

A: The cluster is an indispensable tool. We analyzed the role that the Queretaro, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Campeche and Chiapas energy clusters played in promoting industrial development in their states. All have variable energy resource potential when compared to Tabasco. We came to the conclusion that integrating our own cluster would lead to statewide success in unifying local enterprises and service providers. This has been done in Europe and they have had considerable economic growth over the last two decades. An energy cluster in Tabasco must be structured in accordance with the complexity of the energy industry in the state, in which all segments of the industry’s value chain are represented. Starting with oil and gas extraction, all the way down the line to commercialization. We can help companies identify the optimum way to offer their services within an industrial framework so they know whom to approach and what aspects of their portfolio to promote to potential clients.

Q: How can you contribute to Tabasco’s energy development?

A: We can use our social and political voice and influence to lobby public and private institutions to address three main obstacles that limit economic growth. The first challenge to solve is the issue of labor unions. The government must invest time and resources to successfully conclude negotiations with unions so that economic losses from blocked worksites can be mitigated. This is an issue that happens all over the country. The second issue we must tackle is security. This is a nationwide problem which we must address in Tabasco. We do so by establishing a clear communication with the government and by promoting local campaigns from our member companies that seek to engage with communities and deal with issues related to organized crime. The third is what I would refer to as operational culture. Companies in the private sector need support to modernize their operations and embrace management efficiency, establish quality certification control protocols and implement general risk mitigation that includes auditing. As we work to improve these challenges, we ask our regulators to make a similar effort to shorten delivery times.


The National Energy Entrepreneurs Council and the Tabasco Energy Cluster seek to promote the growth of Tabasco’s oil and gas sector so as to take full advantage of incoming investment into the industry that can raise the standards of local companies.