19 | JUN | 2019
Mexican gas pipelines: Another time bomb
Some pipeline sections in the states of Reynosa, Monterrey, Torreón, and Chihuahua are in urgent need of maintenance - Photo: Rafael Murillo Merchant/EL UNIVERSAL

Mexican gas pipelines: Another time bomb

Noé Cruz Serrano
Mexico City
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70% of Pemex's gas pipelines have been operating for more than 35 years and no longer meet safety standards

According to experts, one of the most overlooked latent risks regarding Mexico’s fight against fuel theft is natural gas transportation by pipelines.

The National Gas Control Center (CENAGAS), a government body in charge of surveillance, rehabilitation, and maintenance of the national gas pipeline network, which covers an extension of around 7,878 miles, has noticed that 70% of said pipes have been operating for more than 35 years and have naturally deteriorated to the point of no longer meeting safety standards.

On average, gas pipelines may operate for up to 30 years under optimal conditions. After said period, they must be given maintenance to extend their service life or be completely replaced.

Notably, some pipeline sections in the states of Reynosa, Monterrey, Torreón, and Chihuahua are in urgent need of maintenance since “a system malfunction could result in dangerous conditions for their population and the environment, as well as continuity in the supply of hydrocarbons through pipelines.”

The government body acknowledged uncertainty surrounding a lack of updated information on the physical conditions of pipelines and their capacity to respond to the operative demand of LPG transport, as well as compliance with the pipelines’ safety standards.

The CENAGAS received Pemex’s gas pipelines in poor conditions, which is why they requested for nearly MXN$200 billion for the maintenance, rehabilitation, and modernization of the monitoring, control, and supervision of pipelines.

Two years have passed since the government body filed their request and their projects are still stalled in spite of their importance.

Out of all the pipeline network, nearly 414 miles are at a high risk, and 5,074 are at a medium risk of failure.

In their cost-benefit analysis for all four investment projects, the CENAGAS lay emphasis on some of the network’s most serious problems.

The second stage of the Comprehensive Maintenance Plan for the Natural Gas Pipeline System was designed “to preserve the integrity of the network and its superficial facilities,” in which the government body found “a lack of maintenance, pipe corrosion, lack of airtightness in the valves, and leaks.”

The CENAGAS explained that, since the pipes are more than 35 years old, “there is a growing risk of incidents thay may affect the population.”

That is why MXN$11.9 billion pesos were requested for operation and maintenance expenses. Though the plan was meant to be completed by 2018, the project currently shows 0% progress.


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