By LAURENCE ILIFF
MEXICO CITY Mexicos state-owned oil company
Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, said Wednesday that equipment
failure caused a critical shortage of natural gas in its
pipeline system and declared a 24-hour alert beginning at noon
that will restrict industry's access to the fuel.
The alert was another in a series of natural-gas alerts that
has sparked complaints from industries that rely on the gas for
Pemex said in a statement that an electrical discharge
during heavy rains in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz forced
the shutdown of a natural gas supply station, which reduced
pipeline pressure in the oil company's central and eastern
When critical alerts are announced, industry and distributors
must halt or limit their use of natural gas since falling
pressure can cause damage to the pipelines.
Pemex said the critical alert applied just to the central
and eastern parts of the country.
Earlier this month, the industrial association Concamin said
the natural gas alerts are not only causing losses in the
millions of dollars, but that the rationing of the fuel is
preventing industry from planning future growth, and from
building their own power plants to reduce costs and become more
In a country where half the people are poor, we cannot
allow a halt to the incipient growth that we have been
registering in recent years, Concamin said in a press
release. The industry group called on the government for
long-term solutions to Mexico's energy needs.
Mexico's Energy Ministry has said that additional natural
gas will have to come through a liquefied natural gas terminal
- meaning it will be much more expensive than the cheap natural
gas supplies coming in from the US through a limited pipeline
network- and that industry will have to agree to pay the higher
While Pemex is a major exporter of pricey crude oil, it is a
net importer of natural gas and has been producing less natural
gas in recent years as prices have fallen on booming US
supplies of shale gas.
Cheap natural gas has also ratcheted up demand for the fuel
in Mexico, and Pemex's imports of the fuel have risen sharply
in recent months to try and meet demand.
Dow Jones Newswires