FERC Friday approved El Paso Natural Gas Co.'s request for a presidential permit to build border-crossing facilities at the international boundary between the United States and Mexico to export natural gas to northern Mexico for its expanding power generation market.

El Paso's Norte Crossing facilities (1,500 feet of 36-inch diameter pipe), which would run underneath the Rio Grande River, would deliver up to 366,000 Mcf/d of natural gas to a new delivery interconnect with the proposed Tarahumara Pipeline at the border, which in turn would deliver the gas to new generation plants to be constructed in northern Mexico (see Daily GPI, March 26). Mexico's Comision Federal De Electricidad (CFE) is proposing to build five power plants over the next 15 years to serve demand in the states of Chihuahua, Durango and Coahuila in northern Mexico.

CFE already has awarded a contract for the construction of the first of the plants, the Norte II power facility, and has contracted with Tarahumara Pipeline S. de R.L. de C.V. to build the proposed Tarahumara Pipeline, which would transport gas after it crosses the border to the power plant. CFE's Norte II power plant is scheduled to enter service in July 2013 and will consume 97,000 Dth/d, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's order [CP12-96].

El Paso, a pipeline subsidiary of Houston-based Kinder Morgan Inc., also plans to construct new upstream facilities, which will consist of a new meter station and a new tie-in that will connect the Norte Crossing facilities to El Paso's existing Samalayuca System located in El Paso County, TX.

MGI Supply Ltd., an existing firm shipper on El Paso's system, has entered into an agreement with El Paso for capacity at the proposed Norte Crossing facility, allowing it to export gas from the United States to Mexico to serve the Norte II power plant.

"The construction of the proposed facilities to export natural gas at Norte Crossing, from the United States to Mexico, will be necessary to meet the future needs of new power generation loads in the states of Chihuahua, Durango and Coahuila in northern Mexico. Further, the proposed export facilities will promote national economic policy by reducing barriers to foreign trade and stimulating the flow of goods and services between the United States and Mexico, both of which are signatories to the North American Free Trade Agreement," the FERC order said.

"In view of [these] considerations, the Commission finds the approval of the Norte crossing facilities for the exportation of natural gas is consistent with the public interest," and will issue a new presidential permit to construct and operate the crossing.

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