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CFE Creating Online Natural Gas Trading Platform to Stimulate Mexico Pricing Hubs

A Mexican energy official on Thursday said state-owned grid operator, Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE), plans to launch an online natural gas trading platform by the end of March.

CFEnergia’s Javier Gutierrez Becerril, director of operations, discussed the plan in a keynote speech at the 3rd Mexico Infrastructure Projects Forum in Monterrey, Mexico.

CFE Online would offer Mexican natural gas pricing points that everyone could access.

Noting that Mexico's burgeoning electricity market won’t function without robust gas transportation, Gutierrez Becerril said government energy officials increasingly are promoting cooperation between CFE and the gas control network operator, Centro Nacional del Control de Gas Natural, aka Cenegas.

"Some time...before the end of this quarter, we hope to have the online service operating,” he said. “We've been working on this for a year now.”

Details are still being worked out, but Gutierrez Becerril indicated that monthly and day-ahead pricing will be available.

"We envision a combination of everything,” he said. “It depends on the market and on demand. We'll to do it in conventional ways -- flows-of-the-month or daily intras, we're not trying to re-invent the wheel."

There will be pricing points, but where they may fall is not known yet.

"They will likely be where there are going to be hubs -- Hermosillo, Encino, and La Laguna -- that certainly makes a lot of sense," said Gutierrez Becerril. "A natural place for a hub is where a bunch of pipes get together.

"We'll have Henry Hub, too, that's what we now have, but we'll see how the market behaves. That is the tricky part of all this, we'll need to know how it starts behaving and how we need to adjust."

While he is hoping the start-up is smooth and relatively fast, the platform may take six months to mature.

"This is a very difficult question” to answer, he said. “It could be as short as two weeks when we're off and running and everything is perfect, or it could be we find there are a lot of little details we need to tweak requiring that we take extra time."

Both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border will be covered, but Gutierrez Becerril said the online platform mainly would be for the Mexican market, since "the U.S. market is already being taken care of."

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