Mr. Dardo Van Megroot
Head of International Logistics & Project Cargo
First, can you tell us about the history of Ulog?
Ulog is part of Ultramar, an enterprise group with three business lanes; agency services and integral solutions (DAIS), industrial logistics (KAPTAN) and ports (NELTUME PORTS).
Ulog began operations in Chile in 1999 to provide logistics solutions to various customers of Ultramar. In 2001, Ulog started operations in Argentina and that was the beginning of its international expansion.
In 2007, the leadership and presence of Ulog were consolidated by expanding its network of international agents on a worldwide scale. Currently, the logistics division of Ultramar has consolidated its regional presence with offices in eleven countries within the Americas.
Who are the owners of the company, and for how many years have you worked there?
Ultramar has over sixty-five years of experience in the American continent, acquired by working with over fifty companies, many of them leaders in their respective markets.
Ultramar is a partner you can trust that provides a complete platform of innovative, sustainable and integrated services and solutions, to support the foreign trade in the Americas. Agency services, integrated solutions, industrial logistics, port operations and stowage are part of its main activities.
Efficiency, excellence and quality of service are part of Ultramar’s hallmark. When it comes to our partner companies, we strive to be strategic partners for our customers by contributing to their logistics chains and generating economic dynamism in America’s most important markets, having much respect for the environments in which we develop our activities.
What is your background in shipping and logistics, and how come you chose this career?
I had been working in Ultramar for the previous eleven years and during my career, I worked in different divisions. I started on shipping lines represented by our group (among them MOL, Hyundai Merchant Marine and Yang Ming Line) in the documentation and customer service department at first, and then moved on to the commercial department.
After several years, I moved to the chartering division and, as a senior shipbroker for five years, I was responsible at first for dry markets (project cargo, steel and grains) and then became responsible for the wet markets (oil and chemicals).
For the past two years, I’ve been head of international logistics and projects for Ulog. The rotation that I’ve had within the company has allowed me to learn about several different markets and to understand logistics from different perspectives, such as those of shipping lines, shipbrokers and freight forwarders.
Argentina is a big country that borders with neighbours in South America. As you’ve said you have experience in project cargo, could you provide us with some examples of projects you’ve handled in/out of Argentina?
Yes, Argentina has been developing several big projects over the past decade, mainly in the energy market (oil and gas, renewable energy and mining) which are very intensive on oversized cargo. In the oil and gas market, we are the second country in unconventional gas resources and fourth in unconventional oil resources worldwide. On renewable energy, the government’s goal is that twenty per cent of electricity consumption must come from this source. As a result, Argentina has released public tenders with fiscal incentives to achieve it, and more than a hundred projects have been awarded.
We are a big presence in the above industries and one of our latest projects is the logistics for a new cement plant. We’ve received five breakbulk vessels during 2019, with more than 45,000m3 of cargo. We’ve overseen the complete logistics from the port to the job site, located 350km away from the port (including discharge at the port, inland transportation to bonded warehouse, storage and stowage, inland transportation to the destination).
We’ve moved more than seven hundred trucks (430 semi, 105 OOG semi and 177 low beds) and more than fifty per cent of the cargo was OOG. Also, for this project, we’ve moved more than 400TEUs (standard containers, open top and flat rack containers) of standard materials. It’s been very challenging and a little stressful for us because we received all the cargo and containers within a very short period, but with a great team, as we have, we are currently almost finished on this project, without any great inconvenience.
Where are your offices elsewhere in South America? Also, how would you describe the business environment in general now for Argentina and South America overall?
Yes, our company is present in fifteen countries in the Americas, with more than fifty business units and participation in multiple markets. We have more than 12,000 employees.
I love South America, even though we still have a lot to improve and learn and I like the business environment in general. We are passionate, reliable and friendly. However, we are currently facing some political instability throughout South America and I hope we can solve it as soon as possible to keep growing.
Customs clearance is an issue in every country. Countries like Brazil and others have had difficulties with that for years. How is the situation in Argentina?
Customs clearance in Argentina is as complicated as it is in Brazil, and delays could generate high extra costs, so custom brokers are very important in the logistics processes and usually, a shipper or consignee has their designated custom broker that knows their products and procedures. It is always a smart idea to check with them before confirming any operation.
Are there any shipowners that you generally prefer to work with for Argentine trade if, for example, the cargo originates in Europe or Asia?
No, we do not have any preferred carriers for containers, but we used to work with in-house represented shipping lines like Yang Ming, Hyundai, MSC and ONE, but also with Cosco and Maersk. For RoRo cargo, we work with MOL, ACE, Grimaldi and Wallenius, taking advantage of their strong routes and freight.
Are you a member of any global networks currently? If so, why do you believe that it is a good idea?
We joined the Cross-Ocean network this year. We’ve never joined a network before, but we are now starting to actively participate since we believe that, in a global world like ours is today, it’s a great idea to join. If you are not connected, you’ll lose tons of opportunities for generating good business. We believe it is not enough to just be part of a network though, as we must be active and proactive, participate at conferences and share information and business opportunities with our partners.
How is best to reach you?
Potential contacts are welcome to get in touch with me in the following ways:
Desk: +54114310 2350
WeChat ID: vandardo