Terminal de LNG de Altamira, Mexico’s first operational liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal located near Tampico, Tamaulipas, on the country’s northeast coast, received its second LNG cargo (138,000 cubic meters) on Oct. 8 after starting commercial operations at the end of last month.

Qatar’s RasGas delivered the cargo on the LNG tanker Fuwairit. The voyage of 22 days over a distance of 9,915 nautical miles was routed through the Suez Canal and the Straits of Gibraltar to the terminal. It was the longest distance any RasGas LNG carrier has traveled.

“This delivery of LNG from RasGas to Altamira, Mexico, marks a milestone in the development of our vision to be the pacesetter in the LNG industry and enhances our reputation as a world renowned LNG supplier that delivers on time, every time,” said Nasser Al Nami, RasGas commercial and shipping manager.

Mexico’s state-owned electricity company, the Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE), has a contract to take 5.2 billion cubic meters/year of LNG from the terminal to serve mainly power generation facilities in northeastern Mexico.

The Altamira project consists of two 150,000 cubic-meter LNG storage tanks, regasification facilities with 500 MMcf/d of peak sendout capability, and pipelines to connect to the existing pipeline system in Tamaulipas. The project also includes marine installations, allowing specially designed 180,000-cubic-meter carriers to supply LNG to the terminal. Altamira is a joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell plc (50%), Total and Mitsui (each 25%).

Altamira joins a small but rapidly growing group of LNG import projects in North America. The only other terminals currently in operation include Excelerate’s Gulf Gateway LNG terminal offshore Louisiana, Trunkline LNG’s terminal in Lake Charles, LA, El Paso’s Elba Island, GA, terminal, Dominion’s Cove Point terminal in Lusby, MD, and Suez’s LNG facility in Everett, MA. As many as 98 other import projects, including expansions, are planned. Many are unlikely to be built because of local opposition and competition for limited available LNG supply.

There are six other LNG import projects planned in Mexico, including one planned by a Tidelands Oil and Gas Corp. affiliate off the Northeast coast, not far from Altamira. Only two other LNG projects have been approved by Mexican regulators: Sempra and Shell’s Energy Costa Azul LNG project in Baja California Norte and Chevron’s Terminal GNL Mar Adentro near the South Coronado Islands offshore Tijuana in Baja California Norte.

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