Eagle Ford pipeline moves forward for delivery to Mexico

A new pipeline project to move Eagle Ford Shale natural gas into Mexico’s growing energy market has received its presidential permit.

Houston-based NET Mexico Pipeline Partners LLC got the OK from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Nov. 8 “to site, construct, connect, operate, and maintain a border-crossing facility” in Starr County for the export of natural gas.

NET Mexico is an affiliate of NET Midstream, which has a long-term agreement to transport 2.1 billion cubic feet of gas per day with MGI Supply Ltd. a subsidiary of Mexico’s state-owned gas company, Pemex Gas y Petroquimica Basica.

Although Mexico has vast natural gas reserves, it hasn’t been able to develop them quickly enough to meet the country’s consumption, which has been climbing at four times the pace of overall economic growth at times in the past decade.

The NET Mexico project is a 120-mile, 42-inch-diameter pipeline from the Agua Dulce hub in Nueces County to a point about six miles east of Rio Grande City in Starr County.

It has proposed a 48-inch pipeline to carry gas under the Rio Grande River to the Mexican side of the border, according to FERC documents.

Mexican officials have announced that the government’s petroleum monopoly would use a Cayman Islands subsidiary to help finance a pipeline connecting the Agua Dulce gas hub to Mexico’s pipeline system on the border outside McAllen.

It would feed South Texas gas to the planned Los Ramones pipeline, which will run some 700 miles from the border through Monterrey and on to Aguascalientes state, supplying Mexico’s rapidly developing automotive manufacturing heartland.

The NET Mexico Pipeline is expected to be completed in October 2014.

Joe Gutierrez, co-president of NET, called the permit “an important regulatory milestone for NET Mexico,” in a press release.

NET Midstream operates three pipeline systems in the Eagle Ford Shale region — one from La Salle County to the Agua Dulce hub, one that supplies a power plant in Pearsall and one that serves the city of Corpus Christi under a long-term gas supply and transportation contract.

Express-News and Houston Chronicle archives contributed to this report.

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