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West Texas to Mexico Exports Increase

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Natural gas pipeline exports from West Texas to Mexico averaged 1.6 billion ft3/d during May 2022 – the most pipeline exports from West Texas on record, according to the most recent monthly data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Compared with 2021, US pipeline exports from West Texas increased by 12 percent from January through May 2022 to average 1.4 billion ft3/d.

US natural gas pipeline exports from West Texas have grown steadily in recent years, doubling from 0.6 billion ft3/d in 2019 to 1.2 billion ft3/d in 2021, as more connecting pipelines in Central and Southwest Mexico have been placed in service in the past three years.

Natural gas flows from the Permian natural gas production areas in West Texas to Northwest, Central, and Southwest Mexico via the Chihuahua-to-Bajío corridor (including the Samalayuca-Sásabe pipeline system) and the Wahalajara system. The Wahalajara system connects the Waha Hub in West Texas to Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-most populous city. So far in 2022, exports from West Texas on the Samalayuca-Sásabe system have increased and displaced some US pipeline exports from Arizona.

In Mexico, the electric power sector and (to a slightly lesser degree) the industrial sector has been leading growth in natural gas consumption in recent years. Much of this growth in natural gas consumption has been met by growth in pipeline imports from the US.

The availability of relatively inexpensive natural gas from the US has shifted Mexico’s natural gas supply mix. The share of Mexico’s natural gas supply met by pipeline imports from the US grew from 61 percent in 2019 to 72 percent in 2021, but it declined to 69 percent in the first seven months of t2022 as a result of rising US natural gas spot prices, according to Wood Mackenzie.

Mexico increased its domestic natural gas production by 15 percent during the first seven months of 2022 compared with the same period in 2021. The recent increase in Mexico’s domestic production was driven primarily by the Quesqui and Ixachi production fields, which produce a higher proportion of dry natural gas. Recent improvements in drilling rigs’ operating efficiency have also contributed to rising natural gas production.

In addition to the decline in pipeline imports, LNG imports have fallen from over seven percent of total supply in 2019 to less than one percent so far in 2022.

In the first five months of this year, US natural gas pipeline exports from West Texas increased 12 percent, but exports from other US regions declined compared with year-ago levels. Exports from South Texas decreased by five percent to average 3.8 billion ft3/d, and combined exports from Arizona and California declined by 24 percent to average 0.5 billion ft3/d. Total US natural gas pipeline exports to Mexico have declined by four percent to average 5.7 billion ft3/d over the same period.

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