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Arguelles Pipeline Holds Open Season for New Transport Capacity into Northeast Mexico

The Arguelles Pipeline, owned by Energy Transfer Partners LP (ETP), is holding an open season for additional natural gas transport capacity to serve Mexico’s industrialized northeast.

The pipeline is seeking shippers for 30 MMcf/d of new firm transportation from additional compression on ETP’s Edinburg Extension, which connects with Arguelles at the U.S.-Mexico border in Tamaulipas state. The expansion would boost Arguelle’s transport capacity to 250 MMcf/d, from the current 220 MMcf/d.

“The capacity increase will result exclusively from natural gas compression adjustments on the [Edinburg] border pipeline, and in no event would it entail the execution or development of infrastructure work on the system,” the company said in a Tuesday filing on the pipeline’s bulletin board.

Mexican energy regulators approved an open season proposal from Arguelles in mid-May.

The 24-inch pipeline starts at the U.S. border and runs 2.2 kilometers (1.4 miles) into Mexico before terminating at the Arguelles compressor station on the Sistrangas, Mexico’s main gas transmission system. It receives gas imports from the Edinburg Extension, which is part of the intrastate Houston Pipeline System.

ETP said the open season would wrap up by Aug. 7, while the additional 30 MMcf/d capacity on Arguelles is expected to be available starting Aug. 13. The pipeline last held an open season in September for 120 MMcf/d of firm capacity.

Most U.S. gas exports flow into Mexico through pipelines in the northeast part of the country, including the NET Mexico system, which shipped 1.81 Bcf/d, or 35% of all Mexican natural gas imports in March, according to the Energy Ministry (Sener). NET Mexico connects with the Los Ramones system, which is part of the Sistrangas network.

In the same area as Arguelles, Kinder Morgan Border Pipeline LLC is planning a 150 MMcf/d expansion that would boost its total capacity to 450 MMcf/d.

“We amended our presidential permit to increase the design capacity on the Kinder Morgan Border Pipeline to up to 450 MMcf/d, and that request has been approved,” a company spokesperson said in April. “Work is currently underway on the additional compression with an anticipated in-service date of July 1, 2018.”

And just last week, the 600 MMcf/d Nueva Era said it had begun injecting gas as the pipeline starts to ramp up. The pipeline would connect a natural gas hub in Webb County, TX, to power plants near Monterrey, in Nuevo Leon state, which borders Tamaulipas to the west.

The full Nueva Era system is expected to come online later this month, according to project developer Howard Midstream Energy Partners LLC.

The 2.6 Bcf/d Sur de Texas-Tuxpan marine pipeline also runs along Mexico’s northeast coast. The project, expected to come online later this year, terminates at the port of Tuxpan in central Mexico, where it will serve power plants and also interconnect with the Sistrangas.

Mexican energy officials hope that gas imports from the marine pipeline will help ease the recurring gas shortages in the south, which has experienced blackouts in May and early June due to fuel constraints and high temperatures driving up power demand.

Shippers interested in the Arguelles open season should send transport service requests to brian.riley@energytransfer.com, from July 4 through Aug. 1.

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