DIG DEEP

Colombia 2014 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Alejandro Costa Posada, General Manager of Impala, on the company's global operations, major infrastructure, and reconsidering modes of transport in Colombia.

Alejandro Costa Posada
BIOGRAPHY
Alejandro Costa Posada studied Mechanical Engineering at the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellín, and completed further studies over the course of his career in Shell, INALDE, and most recently at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 2008. His career has involved a range of management and planning positions in logistics and transport across Colombia. He designed networks of service stations and other infrastructure for Shell from 1998 to 2002, before moving on to become Network Developer Manager for Central America, the Caribbean, and Andean regions while based in Miami. Following senior management positions in Puerto Rico, Colombia, and the UK from 2005 to 2011, he now serves as General Manager of Impala.

What does Colombia represent for Impala's overall operations?

Impala is expanding globally on every continent, and Latin America is no exception; Colombia and Brazil combined represent the largest market in the region, and as such we are convinced that our investments are going to change the pattern of the Colombian logistics business and help the country realize its full potential.

Impala entered the Colombian market three years ago. How have your activities developed over this period?

The government is open to transforming the sector by opening the door to investment, and is willing to sit down and discuss options with producers and potential investors, thus paving the way for promising opportunities for us. We found that the government was eager to receive substantial investments such as ours, and that producers were open to increasing their investment in production if a new and efficient mode of transportation was available to them. Once we had identified opportunities, we worked closely with the government to obtain the requisite licenses and permits. That completed, over the past two years we have been committed to constructing the port with operations set to commence in October 2014. It has been a rapid process that has benefited from collaboration among ourselves, our potential customers, and the government.

You are investing $500 million in ports and terminals in the country. How will this impact your operations?

The investment will allow us to offer an efficient and reliable multimodal transportation solution for Colombian industry. Our initial investment only envisaged a transportation alternative for the Caribbean; however, with our recent acquisition of a majority share in the Pacific Railway Concession (FDP), we have expanded our offer to cover both oceans, providing a truly integrated solution for the Colombian sector. We are now investing in a multimodal logistics solution for the Pacific, using the current FDP concession, and developing the infrastructure to offer transportation opportunities along the Magdalena River. All combined, the investment is worth more than $1 billion.

What sectors will have the most potential for growth over the coming five years?

Agriculture is set to see rapid growth in Colombia. The country has set its sights on becoming a major producer and exporter, and we can facilitate this because the terminal is located in the heart of the country and it is easy to transport by river or by road directly to a particular region. We see the importation of fertilizers and other materials needed by the sector as an excellent opportunity for us. The other type of cargo that we have recently found particularly attractive is what is known as specialized or project cargo.

What is your transport capacity in Colombia?

Impala's transportation infrastructure is already capable of moving 1.5 million tons of dry cargo and approximately 80,000 barrels of hydrocarbons per day. Our expansion plans involve moving a myriad of other types of cargo, in fact everything from grain to steel, coal, and clinker. Our equipment is more than ready to absorb this added capacity and meet our customers' demand.

What is your outlook for the future of Impala in Colombia?

Simply put, the strategy behind Impala's investment in Colombia is to develop and improve the country's competitive stance by gearing its strategic infrastructure toward simplifying the movement of goods, with a special focus on the export of hydrocarbons, coal, and other essential commodities.