Mexico’s state power company Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) is aiming to bring online 1.5 GW of natural gas-fired power generation capacity on the Yucatán Peninsula by summer 2024, CEO Manuel Bartlett said Monday.


The combined-cycle plants in Mérida and Valladolid would have capacities of 499 MW and 1,020 MW, respectively, and run primarily on gas imported from Texas, Bartlett said during President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s morning press conference. 

To maximize the supply of what Bartlett called “the cheapest gas in the world” to south and southeast Mexico, CFE and the private sector have undertaken multiple projects to expand and interconnect the region’s pipelines, according to Bartlett.

“With the promotion of natural gas projects, CFE seeks to strengthen the Yucatán Peninsula’s energy security, as well as facilitate industrial and touristic investments in the country’s southeast,” the company said. 

Projects include the completed 250 MMcf/d Cuxtal I interconnect, which links Mexico’s Sistrangas network with Engie SA’s Mayakan pipeline on the peninsula. Engie and CFE in November announced plans to double Cuxtal’s capacity to 500 MMcf/d.

Bartlett also highlighted the $4.5 billion Southeast Gateway offshore pipeline that CFE is jointly developing with TC Energy Corp. Southeast Gateway would function as an extension of the existing 2.6 Bcf/d Sur de Texas-Tuxpan pipeline, bringing gas to the cities of Coatzacoalcos and Paraíso, Tabasco. Paraíso is the site of the Olmeca oil refinery, which energy minister Rocío Nahle has said could begin processing crude in July. 

The roughly 37-mile Paraíso-Cactus pipeline also would help to shore up gas supply to the region, Bartlett said, as would a planned doubling of Mayakan’s capacity to 500 MMcf/d.

Over the medium term, plans are to extend Mayakán to Cancún, in order to displace higher-emitting fuels, namely diesel and fuel oil, in the peninsula’s power stack.

The Mérida and Valladolid plants would require combined investment of some 25.9 billion pesos ($1.38 billion) and bring the total amount of generation capacity serving the peninsula to 4.52 GW, Bartlett said. This would exceed by 70% the roughly 2.64 GW of maximum demand expected once the Tren Maya, or Maya Train, enters operation.

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The roughly 1,500-kilometer (932-mile) railway, a flagship project of the López Obrador administration, is meant to spur economic, social and cultural development in the Yucatán region. A ribbon-cutting is scheduled for December 2023.

Bartlett said that Mexico’s economy has grown in an “unequal manner,” citing that the south and southeast have lagged the more prosperous north, central and Bajío regions.

Expanded access to natural gas and electricity represents “a true transformation in the south of the country,” Bartlett said.

In related news, the head of CFE’s natural gas marketing affiliates CFE International LLC and CFEnergía, Miguel Reyes, said last week the firm is planning to auction excess transport capacity on its pipelines in the United States and Mexico.

The idea is to develop a secondary capacity market to maximize the company’s margins, Reyes said. 

CFE plans to bring online 7.34 GW of gas-fired capacity across the country by 2025, Reyes said.