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Warren Levy

CEO, Jaguar, Mexico


 


Describe Jaguar Exploración y Producción.


Jaguar is the largest private natural gas company in Mexico. We are focused on making a positive impact in Mexico through the development of the country's natural gas resources. We have 11 blocks of land granted to us by the Mexican government spread across the states of Tamaulipas in Northern Mexico to Veracruz and Tabasco in the South. We have 225 team members and over 1000 indirect employees working in offices in Mexico City, Reynosa, Poza Rica, and Villahermosa. 

For us, it's not just about producing gas; it's caring about doing it responsibly and ensuring the gas is used for purposes that maximize its impact on Mexico.


Could you tell us how a company such as Jaguar makes a contribution to Mexico's social and economic development?


It starts with our beliefs and our values. We are committed to doing things the right way from the start. We work efficiently and ethically, collaborate with communities, protect the environment, and ensure that everyone who works with us does so safely. Whatever we do, if we don't have the foundation to work the right way and always honor our values, what we can produce really doesn't matter. 

Mexico is a country that has seen a significant benefit of being adjacent and connected to the world’s largest and most cost-effective supply of natural gas in the United States. That has created a unique opportunity for Mexico to convert much of its power generation to natural gas, but challenges persist. The state-owned oil company Pemex's choice to primarily focus on oil activities has left the country overly dependent on US gas. Bottlenecks and insufficient infrastructure mean that only some parts of Mexico can access natural gas. Over 75% of the gas consumed in Mexico is imported from the United States, and only the northern half has real access to that gas. 

What has been created is a social divide between the North and South, which is primarily driven by the vastly different energy costs between the two regions. Generating power or heat on Mexico's southern border can cost over three times what it does on the northern border; this makes it very difficult for industry and investment to flow to the South, and the result is a significant difference in the average standard of living across the breadth of Mexico.

Recent studies by international agencies have shown that access to reliable natural gas supplies is the critical factor in Mexico between states and regions that are growing and those that are not. This social divide drives migration from Southern Mexico and Central America to the North. Once someone has travelled over two thousand kilometers to seek gainful employment in the northern factories of Mexico, crossing the border to seek even better pay seems like a small one to many. 

There are two methods to stem this tide and help close the divide. One is to import even more gas from the US, which presents significant technical challenges and is likely to drive even more development along the border. The other, which is crucial, is to produce more gas in Mexico. Jaguar is one of the few companies in Mexico focused on developing natural gas production, and our production can help create a better future for all of Mexico. 


How does Jaguar work considering sustainable development and production with the world and the communities? Does this make Jaguar stand out among its competitors?


It starts with a philosophy. We view the communities where we work as our own and work so that the neighborhood where we live and work thrives, whether from our efforts or the efforts of others, doesn't matter. The most important thing is listening, and listening for as long as it takes. If we are going to work in a new area, we spend upwards of six months with the community to understand their concerns and their challenges before moving any equipment into the area. 

We also are honest. There are things we are good at and know how to do well, and there are other things we don't know how to do. Through an affiliated company, we have extraordinary abilities to provide educational support to the communities. We know how to help rebuild equipment like pumps, lights, and even roads, and we are passionate about biodiversity and reforestation initiatives. We talk about what we are going to do, and then we do what we are told to do. Patience is critical, and working with children and families in our initiative helps.

But most importantly, we have extraordinary people who work with our communities. Our operations personnel always get involved in these projects. They have time and time again become PART of the community, rather than visitors only seeking permission to come in to do a job.  

The result is that we have been able to work safely and effectively across Mexico. Our communities have embraced Jaguar as their own, and seeing children who have been involved in our educational or reforestation initiatives excited to see us in our coveralls is an extraordinary experience. We are showing an entire generation in these communities that working in the hydrocarbon industry is something to aspire to. I am convinced that somewhere in one of our communities, there is a future CEO of Jaguar. 


What have been the biggest innovations and projects that Jaguar has been involved in?


Much of what Jaguar has done is apply technologies that are innovative for Mexico but have been utilized elsewhere in the world. The application of modern techniques that have yet to be tried or are underutilized in Mexico is one of the main ways we have been able to look again at areas that had been explored in the past and find new opportunities worth evaluating.

The project that has been the most interesting is the use of "virtual pipelines," where we compress gas at the wellhead to CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) and sell the gas via truck instead of via pipeline. This idea has been applied elsewhere but was new here, and we had to work with the government for over a year to build the legislation that reconceptualized the sale of natural gas as something that wasn’t just tied to pipelines. It took time and patience. We are excited about this approach because not only can we commercialize gas that might otherwise remain stranded, but we are also able to reconceptualize the consumption of gas. Compressed natural gas at a small scale is not readily available today. If we can make it more readily available, we can work with micro consumers of energy, who today think only about consuming diesel or wood to generate heat to gas, a cleaner and more cost-effective fuel source. The potential to have a transformative impact on these consumers and the communities where they work is significant, and as such, this is the project that I am the most excited about.  


Could you tell us about the challenges of being CEO of an innovative company with people from different backgrounds?


Cultural differences between people present a challenge but also a huge opportunity. Sometimes, even people speaking the same language cannot understand one another correctly and fully; this is a case of locals vs foreigners. Still, my experience suggests that even people from the same country often work from different frames of reference and language to the point that confusion can occur. The best solution I have found for this is creating an environment where people not only feel empowered to ask questions but also are genuinely curious – and they want to ask questions and learn not just technical things from their co-workers but also about their co-workers. Wonderful things start to happen when you put together curious and empowered teams.


Regarding your career, what inspired you to focus it on energy companies and renewable energy innovations?


My father worked in the energy sector for his entire career. It exposed me to an industry that is genuinely global, incredibly multicultural, and full of technical challenges. As an engineer, the technical side of things always attracted me. From a personal perspective, the opportunity to work and live in multiple countries seemed enticing.  

Over the last 28 years, I have come to recognize that the energy sector is paramount to the operation of the world. That people can't live and grow if they don’t have light and power. That emergency response to disasters is only possible with reliable access to energy. But most importantly, I am proud of working in an industry that is brave enough to go anywhere and accept almost any technical challenge. What may be less apparent to the public is the vast majority of progress the industry has made regarding safety and environmental progress has been driven by the industry itself, not by external pressures or public policy. We have chosen as an industry to make learning from our mistakes and getting better a fundamental part of what it means to work in the energy sector. Can we get better? Of course, we can, as we have already improved from where we started over 100 years ago. 


Finally, What are you and your team’s growth projections of Jaguar? What are your short-term goals for the company?


We see the imperative need for natural gas to play a crucial role in facilitating an energy transition and ensuring that it is socially just. In Mexico, we need to do our part to reduce the energy cost for all consumers and work hard to help close the gap between the largely industrialized North of the country and the more disadvantaged South. Jumping directly to renewables without using natural gas as a bridge will widen this energy-driven socio-economic divide. The energy sector in general, and Jaguar in particular, plays a crucial role in assuring a multi-generational pathway for growth for all the members of the communities where we live and work. Through opportunity and education, we can ensure that children and grandchildren in the towns where our oilfields are can become the first generation to receive post-secondary education, can be the engineers and technicians of the future in the energy sector, and can help create fundamental changes for the better in our communities. 

What we do would be a tragedy if we don't also assure the jaguar's survival in Mexico. We are working with the National Foundation for the Protection of Jaguars and with scientists from local universities to monitor and support the biodiversity in our regions. We are doing this because we believe that the world needs to protect the environment, but also because we can use this beautiful apex predator, which is so culturally important in Mexico, as an indicator of the general health of the environment. 

All of this creates the conditions where growth in production and operations are sustainable. What makes me the most proud is that I work today with an extraordinary group of people who share the company's values and believe at our core that the gas that Jaguar discovers and develops will help positively impact Mexico. 



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