GRACIELA ÁLVAREZ HOTH

Mexico 2020 | ENERGY | INTERVIEW

NRGI Broker has worked on Mexico's energy reform and its new insurance regulation, making it a fount of knowledge for investors interested in Mexico's oil and gas sector.

Graciela Álvarez Hoth
BIOGRAPHY

With more than 30 years of experience in the energy sector, Graciela Álvarez Hoth continues to innovate and work for Mexico. As General Director of NRGI Broker, she is a leading broker specializing in oil, gas, and infrastructure, and is an expert in risk management. She is also founder of the Voices of Energy initiative, where she brings together businesspeople and authorities, enriching the dialogue with a single goal: the oil industry's development.

What inspired you to create NRGI Broker?
NRGI is a specialized insurance broker in the energy sector, and we are active in managing risks. I have 30 years of experience in the sector. We started working in Ciudad del Carmen, because 70% of Pemex's budget was spent there. We have worked during five six-year administrations with Pemex, and I have been navigating risks with them for 30 years. We participated in the energy reform by the invitation of the then-Secretary of Energy, because the administration needed to understand the risks involved in oil and which guarantees they were going to add to the contracts signed in the transition toward a more open oil market, which currently has over 130 contracts. That is when I built a relationship with the federal government. We worked on the insurance regulation currently managed by the Agency for Safety, Energy, and the Environment (ASEA) and created during the energy reform to provide guarantees and manage risks ranging from deep water exploration to local gas stations.

What are the main challenges your clients face in terms of risk management?
Nowadays, we have two types of clients: clients who come from abroad and huge corporations that have already developed risk management plans; however, where it gets interesting is local contractors. Pemex has the third-largest insurance policy in the world because it covered the activities of its contractors as well. Mexico has little historical past concerning risk management, because companies are not used to having insurance for their activities. With this new government administration, the current insurance only covers Pemex's direct activities; any third party has to be responsible for its own operations. Hence, companies are obliged to know why it is necessary to have insurance, as they are required to. Any mistake could cost the owners their company.

What does Mexico need to increase oil production?
It needs to pay its suppliers. If President Andrés Manuel López Obrador manages to stabilize this situation, things can improve. Shallow waters have always been a specialty of Pemex, so what they are doing now is making contracts to drill. This way, you give work to Mexican companies in an already-matured industry. Not only is it a great opportunity, but it is also a way to make companies more efficient, because you only get paid if you actually produce oil. There are many opportunities to grow our oil fields by techniques such as fracking, which is a forbidden topic right now, but there is quite a bit of evidence that shows fracking is not detrimental. In general, there are more things to explore and drill.

Can you tell us about the technology being used to make the industry more efficient?
It is not discussed publicly, on account of smaller operators competing with Pemex using technology for their operations. Actually, there is not a lot of competition in the industry; it is more “complementary" work, because it is a small sector in which everybody knows each other.

What are your growth plans both nationally and internationally?
I have a license to operate in Mexico, and there is much to do locally. Internationally, what we do is work with foreign companies to make their lives easier. We are not only good at what we do, but we also understand regulations, barriers, and opportunities. As a result, we can be their facilitators in the country. We help our clients understand the regulations in the country, and we also match their business with objectives within the industry. We started an initiative called Voices of Energy, which was inspired by our work done to clarify the confusion around the new energy reform. Voices of Energy is a communication space where I invite officials, private companies, and legislators to meet and present a topic. This initiative is a side project, but it gives us many benefits. Through it, we can understand different perspectives on the issues the industry faces.