James Delano
Director General
ATCO Mexico
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Insight

Working with Local Communities for Development

Wed, 01/20/2016 - 15:12

“From just two employees, the company quickly grew to building mobile accommodations for the different areas it serviced in Alberta’s oil fields,” James Delano, ATCO Mexico’s Director General explains. ATCO Mexico is a subdivision of ATCO Group, a Canadian company that started trading modular buildings in 1947. In 1980, the company bought out Canadian Utilities, bringing in new assets and leading to the division of ATCO’s capabilities into three main segments, namely Modular and Logistic Structures, Public Service Infrastructure, and Energy Generation. Delano asserts, “ATCO is an A-rated company according to Standard and Poor’s ratings, allowing us to produce a strong balance sheet and consequently grow at a consistent rate. Assets in which we invest are ones that we will operate for the long term, which says a lot about us and how we build these assets.”

ATCO is present in over 100 countries, and seeks to become a local company in each new region, hiring local talent and creating long-term strategic alliances with national companies. Although the company has mostly focused on the expansion of its modular business, its most recent venture in Mexico is part of a strategy to grow its energy sector. “The products and experience that we have are ones that can strongly contribute to the effectiveness of the Energy Reform,” Delano believes, “Inversely, the reform creates many opportunities for us to grow.” The company is currently participating in initiatives surrounding the transportation of gas and electricity, and would like to enter distribution. In addition to this, it is also working on the production of energy in cooperation with its partner Grupo Hermes and PEMEX.

ATCO hopes to build the most efficient power plant in Mexico, able to generate both power and steam, at PEMEX’s Miguel Hidalgo refinery. ATCO believes that Mexico holds many unexploited opportunities, and wants to help the country gain the globally dominant position it believes it deserves in the global energy market. “Thanks to its advantageous geographical position, Mexico has everything it needs to become a global hub,” Delano claims. Participating in the expansion of the country’s natural gas pipeline is part of this endeavor, as he believes one of the main challenges in Mexico is that few gas-rich areas are given the opportunity to develop their resources. “Natural gas is key to the future of Mexico,” the Director General asserts. “The country is lacking energy, and developing this clean and cheap resource will allow the country to grow. Natural gas, in fact, is the least expensive form of energy on the market.” He believes current pollution levels could be reduced by 75-77% through the use of this resource.

The company was considering participating in the construction of the large 200km pipelines in Chihuahua, but as it entered the market and discovered new opportunities, it opted to bid for the design and construction of the 16km Ramal Tula pipeline that would transport natural gas to fuel the Francisco Pérez Ríos power plant in the state of Hidalgo, with a daily capacity of 505mcf. The natural gas will replace the less clean and less efficient fuel oil currently used to generate energy.

ATCO had just undertaken a similar project in its homeland of Canada, and saw this as a promising opportunity to participate in Mexico’s energy sector, while learning about the Mexican business environment and the Energy Reform. “This project was supposed to be completed in July 2015, but had to be extended due to some challenges,” Delano admits. He explains this was mainly due to issues surrounding archeological finds and rights of way, but he does not expect the delay to last much longer as the company has a vast pool of experience from Canada in dealing with local communities. “ATCO prides itself upon its commitment to invest in local populations and we have a division dedicated to this activity, called ATCO Sustainable Communities,” Delano explains.

Moreover, the company often recruits local community members to help carry out the project in their area, providing economic growth, and Delano expects the construction of the gas duct to create over 300 jobs. ATCO seeks to promote the development of the communities with which it works, and will adopt this approach in all of its endeavors in Mexico and abroad, allowing the company to grow while respecting the locals. Collaboration with native communities does not only come in the form of support of ATCO’s projects, but also our support of its assets. Recently, the company built a road for the Ejido Zacamulpa community in Mexico, giving it more aperture to the country, while contributing to the community’s long-term infrastructure.