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Gas, renewables integration key to Mexico catching up on energy transition: IEnova

Highlights

CEO cites country's infrastructure needs

Better community outreach a goal for industry

Houston — Mexico is "many steps behind" the US and Canada in the energy transition and needs to build more infrastructure to allow natural gas to serve as a bridge to a future with greater use of renewables in power production, IEnova CEO Tania Ortiz Mena said May 18.

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During a summit sponsored by Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy, Ortiz Mena characterized the dynamic as more of an opportunity than a challenge for a country that imports from the US about 70% of the gas it consumes.

Better community engagement is the key, she said, in generating the support needed to build more pipelines and transmission to facilitate the energy transition. That means acknowledging, not avoiding, the impact of fossil fuel emissions on climate change, she said.

"The fact is that energy infrastructure, even the cleanest energy infrastructure, has an environmental impact and has a social impact," Ortiz Mena said.

Compensating and mitigating for the long-term impacts on communities from the development of more energy infrastructure in Mexico is important, she said.

"Energy companies have a very serious responsibility, really in order to survive," Ortiz Mena said.

Last month, IEnova, the Mexico unit of California-based Sempra Energy, said it is considering opportunities to increase electricity exports to the US through the development of new solar and wind power plants in the north of Mexico.

IEnova has three divisions: natural gas, storage and power, with the first two accounting for over 90% of profits, according to the company's financial reports. The power division owns plants all over Mexico, some of which export electricity to the US.

At the time, Ortiz Mena said IEnova's project to add liquefaction capabilities at its regasification terminal at Energia Costa Azul on Mexico's Pacific Coast remains the main priority. The first phase, which is under construction, will have an initial export capacity of 2.5 million mt/year. The second phase, which requires major improvements to the network, would be designed for 12 million mt/year of capacity.

During the Columbia energy summit, Ortiz Mena cited the ECA project as a success in the company's infrastructure goals, though she acknowledged Mexico, in general, has more work to do in building out its energy network, especially when it comes to the energy transition.

"We're a few steps behind, or many steps behind the United States and Canada," she said. "But, we are in a good position today."