Private U.S. pipeline operators and a branch of Mexico’s state-owned energy company, Pemex, have been quietly examining the possibility of a new natural gas pipeline from New Mexico’s San Juan Basin to Juarez, across the border from El Paso, TX, according to a Houston-based energy consultant who closely monitors Mexican energy developments. The New Mexico pipeline concept is a more recent offshoot of earlier proposals for a new line from West Texas.

“It has been nicknamed the ‘Bill Richardson Pipeline’ (after New Mexico’s current governor and former U. S. energy secretary)” because there are ties to the state promoting such an energy project, said George Baker, at a Law Seminars International conference Friday in Santa Fe, NM.

Baker said the original concept of a U.S.-built pipeline to El Paso for ultimately a new pipeline south through Mexico involved a Cayman Island-based subsidiary of Pemex’s gas operations, and has sequentially included Kinder Morgan, El Paso Natural Gas, and an organization called “Three-E” (earth, energy and the environment). The latter is linked to the New Mexico state government.

There is no mention in the Mexican daily news media, which Baker’s consulting firm monitors daily, he said, but Mexico’s CFE wants Mexico to have its own natural gas pipeline to the city of Chihuahua, connecting to a new supply of natural gas coming through El Paso and then Juarez. Baker is president of Mexican Energy Intelligence and Baker & Associates, Houston.

“About three years ago, Pemex Gas contacted Kinder Morgan to study a possible pipeline coming from West Texas to El Paso, and then 18 months ago, El Paso Corp. — Pemex’s historic gas partner — asked to be included. An informal tender was created that is managed by the Pemex Gas’ offshore Cayman Islands subsidiary that can operate outside of Mexico’s public works laws.”

Baker said the chronology is unclear, but more recently the “Three-E” organization was created, linked to Richardson’s New Mexico state administration.

“The rumor on the street is that there is tremendous lobbying going on in New Mexico — and rightly so, I might add — to have a pipeline come from the north (San Juan Basin) part of the state south and that would be more competitive than the Kinder Morgan-El Paso line proposal.

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