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Vast pipeline systems in Mexico crucial to delivering U.S. natural gas production to thirsty markets in Mexico remain stalled with little clarity as to when they might come online.

The 2.6 Bcf/d Sur de Texas-Tuxpan marine pipeline, stretching from South Texas to Veracruz in Mexico, set to start for months now, is the most visible of these projects.

The $2.1 billion underwater pipe, a TransCanada Corp. joint venture with Sempra Energy's Mexico unit Infraestructura Energetica Nova, stretches nearly 500 miles through the Gulf of Mexico from Brownsville, TX, to the Tuxpan port in Veracruz state, and was partially invaded by water because of storms last year. In mid-January, TransCanada's Mexico unit President Robert Jones said that was in the past and he saw startup "in a few weeks."

Now, Energy ministry Sener said in its latest development update the project should be online this month. But reports in Mexico this week said environmental agency Semarnat has yet to sign off on the use of coastal zones for the project, while the Secretaría de Communicaciones y Transportes hasn't rubber-stamped the construction of docking stations and piers in Río Tamiahua, in Veracruz.

An industry source told NGI's Mexico GPI that June is a more likely date for operations to start, echoing the projection given this week by Miguel Reyes, the director general of CFEnergía, which is the fuel marketing arm of Mexican state power utility Comisión Federal de Electricidad.

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