Time-efficient logistics in MexicoNovember 28, 2022
Reyna Margarita Plascencia, project manager of R.H. Shipping, talks to The Energy Year about the company’s major oil and gas projects, its competitive advantages and the most significant logistical hurdles it sees in Mexico. R.H. Shipping is a logistics company with a presence in more than 60 countries.
What major oil and gas projects did you manage to secure in the last 18 months?
In terms of projects, we have grown by 150% in the last year. One of the most important projects has been the Planta Perdiz logistics project for Nuvoil, which we have now completed. We also worked on services for their offshore platform in Ciudad del Carmen. For example, we co-ordinated all the logistics for equipment that has to be repaired. We have recently started providing logistics for the Papan project with them as well.
Another important venture we have is with Pemex’s US division. We are handling all their logistics by collecting whatever is required from their various suppliers, and we deliver it to their warehouse next to the border. Pemex is so big that it has brought us a lot of growth and revenue. Working directly with them also puts us on another level and has enlarged our reputation.
Another important project concerns the logistics for two new plants for oxygen and nitrogen production and storage in San Luis Potosí. Our customer for this project was the local firm Cryoinfra. During the pandemic there was a sudden need for oxygen, and we were in charge of transporting these enormous tanks into the country.
Lastly, we are witnessing a major shift in the E&P sector. Expectations are very high. Although our share coming from upstream activities remains quite low, we have no doubt the sector will be one of our next targets. We are no longer limiting ourselves to air and land operations. We are looking to do more offshore, as around 80% of oil production in this country comes from the shallow-water offshore.
What are the largest logistics hurdles in Mexico, and how can they be tackled?
There are quite a few challenges. The main one is that certain areas are difficult to access. The roads and bridges in Mexico are not world class, and sometimes there is a total absence of infrastructure. In Veracruz, for example, there are many small bridges due to the small rivers in this region. Low-capacity bridges were built for cattle, tractors, cane and local produce but not for equipment over 100 tonnes. Beyond the height issues, the real problem is that bridges don’t have enough capacity.
Thus, our first challenge is to determine how we are going to get to a place and what adjustments we have to make to the road so we can pass with a 43-metre-long fixed piece of equipment. This includes what turns we will have to make, what the road conditions are, etc. There are companies that are very capable of moving equipment of this type in Mexico. We work with them. It is important that our customers and suppliers trust us. We make sure we work with the best transportation companies out there.
In addition, the government is taking the necessary steps to make it easier for importers. Now you can import all the equipment under one tariff item, which makes things more efficient. Obviously, with a lot of co-ordination, we can ensure that, as soon as the material lands and the transport modules are loaded, we can leave the site and continue the transit.
Tell us more about the logistical particularities of the Papan project with Nuvoil.
The Papan project includes us moving two cryogenic plants, one amine plant and other general equipment and instrumentation. We recently collected the two cryogenic towers, which are each 43 metres long, 3.8 metres in diameter and 130 tonnes in weight. They are the first equipment to be installed at the plant.
We collected them at Tulsa, Oklahoma, moved them on modular rigs to the port of Catoosa, mounted the towers on a hopper barge and sailed down the river to the port of Houston. From there, we transferred the towers from the barge to the Transunisa shipping line vessel and sailed to the port of Veracruz, where we received the equipment and delivered it to the final destination. It takes us 45 days to do this type of move. This hybrid logistics option was more convenient than moving it on trucks for 1,800 kilometres including detours. With this scheme we only had to move 140 kilometres on land, while we sailed the rest of the distance.
What logistics work have you been carrying out for Pemex?
R.H. Shipping now works with the US division of Pemex, Pemex Exploración y Producción and we also service two substations for them: one in Paraíso and one in Ciudad del Carmen. Our mission is to engage with their purchasing orders and suppliers and move the equipment to their warehouse on the border. Once the equipment is there, they prepare everything related to Customs. If the material goes to one of the aforementioned substations, we deliver it.
There are more suppliers than us, as they have tonnes of cargo, but we have had very positive feedback from them. With time, we have been helping them more with air services from France and Italy, and we also bring them maritime equipment.
The process to work for Pemex was very long – nearly three years. It has ultimately been successful, and we have worked for them for nearly a year. This step was very important for us, as it serves as a letter of introduction to work for other large oil and gas companies.
What is your major advantage as a logistics firm in such a competitive scene?
Availability. We solve problems. We are always 100% available for the client. Our aim is to provide a solution to the needs of our clients. We make sure the job gets done in the most effective and time-efficient way because time is money. Having a plant or production on hold costs any company a lot of money. We are talking about impressive losses.
We might charge clients 30% more than other competitors, but we will solve any problem as quickly as possible. In this type of business, cheap is not always the best option. We provide immediate solutions via land, air or sea. We have capacity and the know-how comparable to large international logistics companies. We are experts in logistics and specialised freight transporters and act in accordance with our clients’ needs.
What type of work have you carried out for Saipem in North America?
Saipem is a very important client for us. Their Mexican subsidiary Saimexicana was an EPC contractor in charge of the natural gas pipeline in Topolobampo. They finished and returned all the equipment to the UAE. We were in charge of the equipment return: we did the cleaning, provided the shipping and returned the equipment.
We also worked for Saipem America when they brought their crane SAIPEM 7,000 to do some dredging work in Mexico. We helped them import the crane. We brought them the containers with 75 tonnes of equipment, with which they tied up the whole crane to do the work. In other words, we imported the crane and then transported it to Dragados del Golfo. It was the first time that such a crane was brought to Mexico.
Currently we have a project for Saipem Canada in Saint-Félicien, which shows they are a very trusted client of ours since we work with them throughout North America. RH Shipping has its corporate headquarters in Mexico City, and from there we co-ordinate the Saipem Canada project.
To what extent is the growth across the Americas key to the overall aspirations of RH Shipping?
In the next 10 years, we want to become a billion-dollar company. To achieve this growth, we need to have a global presence. We are applying in the US what we did in Mexico, as we see tremendous potential for logistics in the US. Regarding this plan, we want to grow the size of our Houston offices tenfold. We also want to expand our presence in Canada, which will solidify our position in North America, and then also expand into Latin America, especially into Chile, Peru and Colombia, where there is a lot to do.
Expanding across the Americas is a fundamental milestone for advancing our quest for global growth. Global expansion is critical for catapulting RH Shipping to the next level.
To what extent are you involved in the power and gas transportation sector?
We are aware of the different combined-cycle power plants planned by the CFE [Federal Electricity Commission]. We are now in the bidding process, and we hope that these conclude in H2 of this year.
In the power sector, we are also specialists in the transportation of transformers. We’ve worked with companies such as Toshiba. Moving this type of equipment is a delicate task, for which we put vibration measuring devices on trucks for transportation. We handle both imported transformers, which we deliver to different projects in Mexico, and transformers produced here for export. We are specialised in the transport of this delicate equipment.
Moreover, we have a good relationship with clients in charge of natural gas transportation. We are seeking further opportunities with them. We participated in two very important gas pipelines: the Samalayuca-Sásabe and the Ojinaga-El Encino pipelines. Our client for the latter project was Sempra Infrastructure, for whom we are also trying to move compressor stations. We are bidding to carry out this project, but the process is at a standstill.
These projects say a lot about the scope we are able to tackle. Handling pipelines of this magnitude is not easy, but we have been successful. We use hybrid solutions for logistics, transporting equipment by rail, with specialised units, etc. Sometimes we have to move 400 kilometres of pipe, and questions crop up as to where to store it, how to store it, how to avoid dents, rust, etc. We make unique inscriptions for each pipe, and we help the client repair pipes if needed. We offer integrated services, and everything is planned.