By LAURENCE ILIFF
MEXICO CITY -- The construction of a natural gas
pipeline from southern Texas to central Mexico for Pemex, will
allow gas imports from the United States to triple, to around 3
billion cfpd by 2015 to meet increasing demand by industry for
the relatively cheap fuel, a Pemex official said.
Alejandro Martinez Sibaja, the Director of Pemex's gas
division, said in an interview that Mexican industry is
currently hampered by its reliance on more expensive fuels
because of the lack of pipeline capacity for natural gas to
come across the border.
"The lack of gas means that our industries are having to
burn fuel oil," which is currently about three times as
expensive as natural gas, Mr. Martinez said.
"A lot of investment is looking to come to Mexico, so we
have to respond by providing natural
gas as part of our offer to get these companies to come,"
The gas supply problem is expected to be alleviated with the
Los Ramones project, a pipeline that will carry
gas from southern Texas to the central Mexican state of
Guanajuato, which is a hub for the Mexican auto industry.
Pemex plans to release bidding rules next week for the
longest part of the pipeline, a 460 mile stretch from Nuevo
Leon to Guanajuato. Mr. Martinez said the estimated cost of
section of the pipeline being tendered is about $1.8
The first two sections of the pipeline have already been
assigned. The 124 mile section from the Agua Dulce gas hub in
Texas to the Mexican border will require an investment of about
$800 million, and the 71 mile section from the border to the
Ramones gas hub in Nuevo Leon state will cost about $600
million, he said.
Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE), is building a
gas pipeline on the Pacific side of Mexico.
Pemex and CFE are currently importing liquefied natural gas
from Nigeria and other nations at about four to five times the
price of piped-in gas from the United States, where increased
production from shale formations has lowered prices in recent
The imported LNG,
which arrives by ship, is just enough to keep Pemex pipelines
from reaching a critical state due to a lack of pressure.
Critical alerts in the past have forced industry to cut back on
their use of the fuel.
Mr. Martinez said that while Pemex's immediate goal is to
guarantee sufficient natural
gas supplies in the short term, he expects the company to
eventually increase its own production of the fuel from the
current 6.4 billion cfpd by exploiting Mexican shale gas
deposits now in the exploration phase.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has proposed reforming
Mexico's government dominated energy industry by allowing more
private investment. The three main political parties are
negotiating energy reform, a sensitive political issue in
Mexico, which nationalized the oil industry in 1938 and relies
on oil revenue for about a third of the federal budget.
Dow Jones Newswires