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US-Mexico Natural Gas Pipeline Expansion Approved by FERC – 6/5/2023

Canadian energy company TC Energy Corp's North Baja Pipeline unit has received approval from the US FERC to start the North Baja natural gas pipeline expansion in Arizona and California. 

The project will cost approximately US$127 million and will provide increased natural gas supply to Mexico, including to Sempra Energy's Costa Azul LNG export plant. The Costa Azul project, valued at around US$2 billion, is expected to convert 0.43Bcf/d of gas into LNG by mid-2025. 

The North Baja pipeline is bidirectional and has been operational since 2002, facilitating the movement of gas between Arizona, California and Mexico. The recent upgrade enables the pipeline to transport approximately 0.5Bcf/d of gas southbound and up to 0.695Bcf/d northbound.

Additionally, TC Energy is partnering with state utility CFE in an effort to modernize the country's energy systems and support the industry. This year, TC plans to invest US$2.1 billion to advance construction of the Southeast Gateway project, as well as the Villa de Reyes and Tula pipelines.

François Poirier, President and CEO, TC Energy, believes that investor demand and financial support will likely determine the initial cap on Mexico's export volumes, rather than its capacity. Poirer also believes that developing the linear infrastructure to deliver gas to LNG terminals for export is achievable as long as LNG projects themselves receive approval.

TC Energy plans to make a billionaire investment to expand North American natural gas pipeline capacity throughout the decade. Poirier believes market conditions are changing to favor expansions and greenfield projects that boost LNG exports. He also expects to see regulatory support for more infrastructure as around 75-80% of TC Energy's investments are currently connected to natural gas businesses.

Last year, TC Energy launched US$6 billion worth of infrastructure projects this year, which Poirier believes is tangible evidence of the company's ability to get projects permitted, built and put into service. He emphasizes the importance of being agile and having strong communication when dealing with the multitude of stakeholders who want and expect a say in the sanctioning of infrastructure.

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