Mexico approves North Baja pipeline construction

Mexico's Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) has issued Sempra Energy a permit for construction of the 135-mile Mexican segment of the North Baja pipeline project.

Sempra Energy International, Proxima Gas S. A. de C.V., and PG&E Corp. are developing the $230 million, 215-mile Arizona-to-Mexico pipeline.

Darcel Hulse, Sempra senior vice-president and Sempra Energy International president, said, "We have now passed the major regulatory hurdle in Mexico, clearing the way to begin construction on the pipeline as soon as the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issues its permit for the US segment. We look forward to bringing this much-needed, reliable source of natural gas supplies to the northern Mexico/Southern California region.''

In October, PG&E National Energy Group (NEG) filed an application with the FERC to build the 80-mile US portion of the pipeline.

"The northern Mexico and Southern California markets are at a critical point in the need for additional pipeline capacity, largely because of the increased use of natural gas to fuel electric generation,'' said Thomas B. King, president and CEO of NEG's western region operations.

The companies have signed agreements for more than half of the pipeline's 500 MMcfd capacity and discussions are continuing with other potential customers.

The project will begin at an interconnection with El Paso Natural Gas Co. near Ehrenberg, Ariz., cross southeastern California and northern Baja California, Mexico, ending at an interconnection with an existing pipeline system. PG&E National Energy Group will direct the permitting and development of the US leg of the pipeline, while Sempra Energy International will direct the permitting and development of the Mexican leg.

The initial design calls for a 36-in. line for the first 12 miles and a 30-in. line for the rest, and one compressor station in Arizona.

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