Another major natural gas pipeline is slated for Mexico, this one for the Northwestern part of the country and the states of Sonora and Baja California.


On Monday, Mexican utility Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Carso Energy and Sempra Infrastructure.

Carso Energy is a subsidiary of Grupo Carso, a Mexican infrastructure firm run by billionaire Carlos Slim. Sempra Infrastructure is a subsidiary of San Diego-based Sempra.

The companies filed a joint statement explaining that the pipeline would principally be used to fuel CFE natural gas power plants. It would also “help the development of the natural gas industry in the northwest, shoring up energy security in the country and the objectives of the government.”

The natural gas pipeline would run across the two states for a distance of about 450 kilometers, or around 280 miles. It would interconnect with Carso’s 472 MMcf/d Samalayuca-Sásabe pipeline and Sempra’s 700 MMcf/d Sásabe-Guaymas pipeline.

The points of delivery to CFE power plants would be at Sásabe, Sonora and Algodones, Baja California. CFE previously said that the transport system would need a capacity of 600 MMcf/d and service would be under a levelized rate for 25 years. CFE would source the gas from the United States, using its capacity on both sides of the border.

The MOU is preliminary, the companies said, and subject to feasibility studies and the relevant permits along with engineering and construction contracts and a final investment decision.

Rising Demand Needs

Analysts have suggested that the western flank of Mexico in particular lacks the necessary natural gas infrastructure to feed growing natural gas demand.

Guillermo Turrent, the former CEO of gas marketing subsidiaries CFE International LLC and CFEnergía, said late last year that Northwestern Mexico could see constraints if all of the announced LNG and power projects in the region enter service as scheduled.

These include Sempra’s Energía Costa Azul LNG Phase 1 liquefaction terminal, with expected demand of about 500 MMcf/d; Mexico Pacific Ltd. LLC’s liquefied natural gas project which would pull about 1.25 Bcf/d for its first two liquefaction trains; and CFE’s San Luis Rio Colorado and Gonzalez Ortega power plants in Baja California that would require 216 MMcf/d.

LNG Alliance Ltd.’s Amigo LNG project in Guaymas, Sonora, has also secured U.S. Department of Energy export permits for a terminal with 7.8 million metric tons/year (mmty) of capacity across two trains. Sempra has also proposed the roughly 2 mmty Vista Pacifico terminal in Topolobampo, Sinaloa.

“For the Pacific Northwest of Mexico, there are critical pipeline capacity shortages to be resolved to be able to supply some of the partnerships announced,” Turrent said.

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Western Mexico is also pulling a lot more gas from West Texas. Following pipeline capacity expansions on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, Mexico’s West Texas gas imports have jumped over the past year.

Calgary-based TC Energy Corp., a major pipeline developer in Mexico, is forecasting Mexico’s natural gas demand to grow by 35% from current levels to reach 12 Bcf/d by 2030, and for Mexico’s gas imports from the United States to reach 9 Bcf/d from about 6 Bcf/d currently.