MEXICO CITY, Nov 13 (Reuters) - U.S.-based Sempra Energy
will be granted an export permit for a liquefied natural gas
facility in northwest Mexico if the company helps address excess
supply in the area, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez
Obrador said on Friday.
San Diego-based Sempra had previously signaled its Mexican
unit, IEnova, was close to obtaining the permit for the LNG
plant at its existing regasification terminal near Ensenada, in
Lopez Obrador told reporters at a news conference he was
inclined to approve the permit. But he also complained of excess
natural gas in the northern Pacific coastal region, given that
state-owned power company Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE)
does not use the fuel there to generate electricity.
CFE plants in the area burn highly-contaminating fuel oil
Lopez Obrador said supply contracts inked by the previous
government obliged CFE to buy natural gas that was not needed.
"If we stop buying all that gas that is not used and that we
have to pay for, and if (Sempra) helps us export that gas via
that plant in Ensenada, then we'd give the permit," said Lopez
Sempra and IEnova did not immediately respond to requests
The president's comments appeared to walk back the
government's interest in requiring IEnova to build a second LNG
export facility before approving the Ensenada plant, which was
reported by Reuters in August.
Lopez Obrador said a second plant would be costly and
The LNG export permit would be the first of its kind in
Mexico and feature an initial LNG export capacity of some 3
million tonnes per annum.
It would also likely represent a lucrative means of selling
LNG to Asian markets, where natural gas prices are considerably
higher then in the Americas.
(Reporting by David Alire Garcia; Additional reporting by
Sharay Angulo, Ana Isabel Martinez and Dave Graham; Editing by
Frank Jack Daniel and Tom Brown)