Rio - How CFE's Nueces Header Will Dance Gas To Mexico

The current phase of Mexico’s natural gas pipeline buildout, led by the country’s Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), is nearing completion. With 22 new pipelines built or under construction, the effort has dramatically reshaped Mexico’s natural gas supply portfolio. The capacity of the pipeline network within Mexico has been tripled with the addition of 18 new pipelines, while four new pipelines on the U.S. side of the border will add almost 6 Bcf/d of export capacity by late 2018. As part of the building spree, CFE also initiated development of two new gas headers to be built in Texas: a 6-Bcf/d header at Waha in West Texas that was recently completed by a consortium of Carso Energy, MasTec, and Energy Transfer and the 5-Bcf/d Nueces Header, now under construction by Enbridge at Agua Dulce in South Texas. Today, we discuss CFE’s Nueces Header and its role in moving more gas south.

We last looked at CFE’s pipeline buildout in Part 4 of our Waha blog series, “It Was Good Living With You, (W)aha.” In that blog, we reviewed the current status of the gas pipelines within Mexico and the header system CFE initiated in the Permian. Earlier this year, we posted a series of blogs focused on Agua Dulce in conjunction with our “I Saw Miles and Miles of Texas” Drill Down series. Today, we shift our focus back to South Texas and the 5-Bcf/d Nueces Header being built by Enbridge at CFE’s request.

Description and Status of the New Header

The Nueces Header isn’t near the border and won’t cross the “Rio” Grande River as today’s blog title suggests. Instead, it is being built about 150 miles inland in Nueces County, TX near the hamlet of Agua Dulce, home of the Agua Dulce High School Longhorns and its eponymous natural gas hub. Enbridge won the contract to build the hub in response to a 2016 request for proposal (RFP) from CFE that also included the planned Valley Crossing Pipeline from Agua Dulce to Brownsville, TX (capacity 2.6 Bcf/d; completion scheduled for late 2018). The header’s Agua Dulce location was chosen based on the high number of interstate and intrastate pipelines passing through or near the area. The NET Mexico Pipeline header was built nearby in 2012 for similar reasons. (See It Takes Two for more on the NET Mexico Pipeline and header). Natural gas will move to the Nueces Header on existing area pipelines that transport gas into South Texas and also on potential new pipelines (or pipeline expansions) from the Permian. Gas will then leave the Nueces Header and dance its way to Mexico on Valley Crossing, which will first head directly south to near Brownsville before cutting east into the Gulf of Mexico. There it will intersect the Sur de Texas Pipeline being built by a joint venture of TransCanada (60% ownership) and IEnova (Sempra Energy’s Mexican energy infrastructure subsidiary) and again head south under the Gulf of Mexico before intersecting the Mexico pipeline grid on the coast at Tuxpan, in Mexico’s Veracruz state.

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