Mexico’s electric grid operator declares emergency in Yucatan

Photo: File
Photo: File

Mexico’s electric grid operator, Cenace, is preparing for potential supply rationing, brownouts or even blackouts on the Yucatan Peninsula this summer as the region’s gas shortage reaches critical levels.

In an official statement issued late Monday, the agency declared a state of operative emergency on the Peninsula, warning consumers of a gas shortage that could curtail power generation this summer.

Tight fuel supplies will require the Yucatan’s three combined-cycle power plants to operate at reduced load, potentially resulting in deficient generating capacity during periods of peak demand.

According to Cenace, electric demand on the Peninsula could reach up to 2,220 MW this summer. Existing connections to Mexico’s national power grid allow for the import of up to 1,235 MW.

To ensure grid reliability, the Yucatan could be required to generate about 935 MW of its own supply — a total load that would eclipse the region’s operative and dispatchable capacity, according to the agency.

The biggest risk for electric supply disruptions on the Yucatan will come in July and August when cooling demand peaks, with the potential for hot weather and high loads continuing through October.

While the move by Cenace to declare a state of operative emergency doesn’t necessarily signal an impending electric supply crisis, it does give the agency discretion to respond to a possible shortage in generating capacity by prioritizing supply with brownouts or rolling blackouts.

In a subsequent communique addressed to the Yucatan’s large power consumers, Cenace said that Mexico’s state electric utility CFE was taking cautionary actions to help ease the situation, including the construction of a pipeline to provide 24-hour diesel supply to the region’s power generators.

Mexico’s peninsular region can only access gas from the 250 MMcf/d Mayakan Pipeline, which is currently supplied exclusively by Pemex’s Cactus and Nuevo Pemex Processing Plants.

In recent years, flows on the Mayakan Pipeline have declined sharply as Pemex uses more of its own production for reinjection to existing wells, a practice known as enhanced oil recovery or EOR.

According to S&P Global Platts Analytics, Mayakan Pipeline flows have averaged just 53 MMcf/d year to date, which compares to an average 76 MMcf/d over the same period last year. Over the past five years, flows on the critical gas-supply artery have fallen from about 140 MMcf/d.

Dwindling supply has led to higher reliance on power transmission imports to the Yucatan and costly high sulfur fuel oil generation.

Startup of the 2.6 Bcf/d Sur de Texas-Tuxpan marine pipeline, though, should help to alleviate supply shortages in southern Mexico, allowing more of Pemex’s production to flow toward the Peninsula.

According to a report from Mexico’s gas grid operator, Cenagas, the marine pipeline coupled with the Cempoala Compressor Station reversal project, should allow for the Mayakan Pipeline to flow upwards of 220 MMcf/d.

Last week, the pipeline’s developers, IEnova and TC Energy announced in a joint press release that the pipeline has reached mechanical completion, although no additional details on commissioning activity were provided.

Source: S&P Global

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