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Analysis

Mexico's Pipeline Network

Wed, 01/25/2012 - 13:03

Pemex reported that in 2010, the total upstream pipeline system for exploration and production in Mexico represented 12,293km, with 7,526km for natural gas and 4,767km for crude oil. Pemex Gas’ downstream pipeline system represents 12,676km, which includes pipelines for natural gas and products. The network of refining pipelines adds up to a total 14,182km, representing crude oil pipelines, as well as products. Pipelines for petrochemicals have a pipeline network of 731km, including the piping rack.

In 2010, Pemex Refining transported 1 billion barrels of crude and oil products through pipelines, which represented 80.5% of the national pipeline system’s total movements in that year. According to a Pemex report, only about 51.8% of the national pipeline system’s capacity was utilized in 2010, 1.4% less than in 2009. As of December 2010, the gas pipelines in Mexico had a transport capacity of 5 Bcf/ day. More than 90% of the national gas pipeline system’s capacity is used, considering an average transported gas amount of 4.53 Bcf/day

The oil pipelines in Mexico are approximately 24 years old on average, and the multipurpose pipelines are about 28 years old. Apart from their age, the pipelines suer from regular fuel theft that costs Pemex millions per year. There were 1,324 cases of theft from pipelines registered in 2011, most of them in pipelines belonging to Pemex Refining, and 39 cases were reported in Pemex Exploration and Production’s pipelines. Sinaloa state was the most aected, accounting for 22% of the cases, while Veracruz and Tamaulipas took second and third places respectively. Pemex estimated in November 2011 that 2,986,563 barrels had been lost through robbery, an increase of 52% from the previous year.

One of Pemex’s goals is to reduce theft from pipelines, but also to increase the pipeline system’s capacity. In its 2012-2016 business plan, the company states it wants to augment the pipeline transportation capacity in order to reduce the use of other more costly transportation methods like tanker trucks. To achieve that goal, the company plans to build two multipurpose pipelines, as well as debottlenecking or improving capacity of 12 multipurpose pipelines. In June 2009, Pemex started the construction of the Tuxpan-México multipurpose pipeline, which will be 103km long with a 46cm diameter.

In recent years, Pemex Exploration and Production started awarding 10-year contracts for pipeline maintenance in order to minimize the risk of downtime, spills, and explosions. The largest contract, a US$1.3 billion 10-year contract for maintenance of the 116 pipelines in Tabasco and Campeche areas of the Gulf of Mexico, was awarded in 2009 to DMGP Servicios de Integridad, a consortium consisting of Mexican companies Grupo Diavaz and Mexssub and international companies Penspen and GreyStar Corp.