Mexico natural gas demand buoys Kinder Morgan
This is a great opportunity for the energy company to increase shipment capacity for a minimal investment.
Natural gas demand from Mexico on the rise
Mexico has many shale fields enriched with natural gas as part of the gas-rich Eagle Ford shale formation falls into the country's territory. However, the policies of the country, as well as of the oil and gas companies, are more inclined toward oil exploration than gas exploration. Despite having proven reserves, they are reluctant to produce gas.
On the other hand, the demand for the commodity has risen in the past at an average rate of 7% between 1995 and 2010 and will continue to rise further in the future with several upcoming gas-fired power projects under construction. This implies that the country wants to tap into the natural gas boom in the U.S. It is now focusing on building pipelines to import the U.S. natural gas, which is cheap and abundant.
Kinder Morgan is one of the companies with multiple natural gas pipelines stretching to the U.S.-Mexican border. Additionally, it is building more facilities to allow connectivity with the pipelines in Mexico. The company had previously stated that it is building an extension from its pipeline near Tucson to the Arizona border town of Sasabe. Separately, Mexican officials have indicated their intentions to construct new pipelines from Rio Grande deep into central and northwest Mexico. They are willing to spend up to $3 billion to build these new pipelines, and will award contracts to U.S. and Mexican companies in October.
Mexico has three main sources of gas supply: domestic production, imports from the U.S., and liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports. It has 15 pipeline points along the Mexico-U.S. border and two LNG import facilities at Altamira and Ensenada. It is currently building another LNG import facility at Manzanillo. The country's demand is met by 5 to 6.5 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) of domestic production, around 1.5 to 2 bcfd of LNG import and the rest through imports from the U.S. Mexico's current plan shows 500 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of imports from the U.S. by 2024, but the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects U.S. exports to Mexico to rise to 2.33 bcfd by 2025. Even if Mexico is able to keep its imports from the U.S. steady, which seems unlikely, it will still offer a massive opportunity for the U.S. natural gas suppliers.
Kinder Morgan will initially export nearly 160 mcfd of gas to Mexico, which is likely to increase in the future. It is presently handling a total of 4,000 bcf of gas shipments per year. So, on a yearly basis, 160 mcfd will add up to 60 bcf at the present level. However, this figure will increase substantially if the EIA projections turn out to be correct. Hence, this is a great opportunity for Kinder Morgan to add additional gas shipment capacity at a minimal investment.
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