February 2024, Vol. 251, No. 2

Features

Spotlight on Mexico: Sierra Madre Pipeline Signals Nation’s Future

By Mauro Nogarin, P&GJ Correspondent, South America  

(P&GJ) — Mexico’s state of Chihuahua and the U.S. company Mexico Pacific have signed an agreement to construct the Sierra Madre Gas Pipeline (STGN).

The pipeline will extend 155 miles (250 km) from the Waha Basin in Texas to the border at Chihuahua, then 497 miles (800 km) to Puerto Libertad in Sonora. 

In Mexican territory, the gas pipeline route will pass through more than six municipalities in Chihuahua and 10 municipalities in Sonora. 

The final location of Puerto Libertad, where the liquefaction plant will be built, represents a great advantage because on the western coast of Mexico ships will need eleven fewer days to reach Asia. 

The capacity of the new infrastructure will be about 2.8 Bcf/d of natural gas with a pressure of 1,600 psig. The shipments will be carried through three points: the Tarahumara Pipeline gas pipeline through the CS-1 station with a maximum capacity of 845 MMcf/d, through the CS-4 with the Samalayuca-Sásabe gas pipeline with a maximum operating capacity of 880 MMcf/d. 

The manufacturing of each duct will be done in accordance with the API 5L PSL2 grade X-70 specification, with a thickness of 16.2 mm. 

From a topographical perspective, the province of the Sierra Madre Occidental occupies part of the states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Durango, Sinaloa, Nayarit and Zacatecas. 

And from the border area with Arizona it ends at the Santiago River in Nayarit, where it connects with an important mountain system of volcanic origin and the mountain range rises to 9,842 feet (3,000 meters) above sea level with a steep region facing west. To the east ,the mountain range descends to a region with great plateaus. 

At the border crossing between the two countries, in the municipality of Guadalupe, Chihuahua, the gas pipeline has an elevation of 3,412 feet (1,040 meters) above sea level, extending southwest toward the LNG terminal of Puerto Libertad, in the municipality of Pitiquito, at an elevation of only 20 feet (6 meters) above sea level. 

The natural gas delivery station is located in Texas, where the flow of gas sent is connected through the SCADA system to the process control center on the Mexican side. 

In the border area between Mexico and the United States is the Rio Bravo, where HDD-type drilling is contemplated to carry out the custody transfer of the gas. 

Successively at 75 feet (120 km), the compression station (CS-1) will be installed where the gas analyzers are also located to control the flow from the Waha gas pipeline

From this point, located in the municipality of Guadalupe, Chihuahua, the gas pipeline continues its trajectory southwest toward the municipality of Ahumada and three more compression stations. These include sectioning valves and a measurement, regulation and control station. 

The second station (CS-2) will be located at Mile 173 (Km 280), in the municipality of Mata Ortiz, Chihuahua. The third compression station (CS-3) will be installed at Mile 292 (Km 470) in the municipality of Cumpas, while the fourth measuring station (CS-4) will be installed at Mile 390 (Km 630), in the municipality of Santa Ana. 

Finally, at Mile 497 (Km 800) of the Sierra Madre gas pipeline, the measurement and regulation station will be built, before the gas enters Puerto Libertad to be processed in the liquefaction plant. 

According to the project, supervised by the security, energy and environment agency (ASEA), in Mexican territory the gas pipeline will pass through 209 crossings, 155 of those streams and rivers with natural currents.  

Regarding the implementation of the cathodic protection system, the gas pipeline will have electrical recording stations, which will be installed on average of every 0.62 miles (1 km) over the DDV security strip. The devices will also be installed at all crossings with buried metal structures, roads, railway tracks, rivers and at each compression station. 

Finally, the construction of the Saguaro Energía LNG Liquefaction Plant will be located on 1,235-acre (500-hectare) area and have the capacity to produce 15 mtpa by the second half of 2027. 

In this way, Saguaro Energía LNG will be able to supply one in every five ships from China or Japan, according to the information provided by the CFE. 

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