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Analysis: NET Mexico maintenance to cut US natural gas exports by up to 1.3 Bcf/d

Highlights

Cash prices at Houston Ship Channel down 15 cents/MMBtu

Nuevo Leon industry chamber expects 30%-40% consumption cut

Denver — Maintenance on the NET Mexico Pipeline will cut US natural gas exports points south of the border starting Tuesday. The capacity reduction, up to 1.3 Bcf/d, will cut gas consumption in northeastern Mexico and increase reliance on LNG sendout there, pressuring cash prices on either side of border.

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In early trading Monday, gas prices in East Texas were down sharply. Houston Ship Channel cash prices fell 15 cents from Friday's settlement, trading around $2.50/MMBtu. At Katy Hub, spot prices were down 11 cents trading around $2.52/MMBtu, data from the Intercontinental Exchange showed.

Prices across US Southeast and Gulf Coast were lower across the board on Monday. Notably sharper downward movements in East Texas, though, could be due in part to the anticipated pushback in supply expected across the region starting tomorrow and continuing through Sunday.

At the northeastern Mexico's Reynosa and Monterrey hubs, prices could be expected to move sharply higher in the coming days.

MAINTENANCE

Maintenance at the Agua Dulce Compressor Station in South Texas will begin on April 16 with a capacity cut to 1.61 Bcf/d, down from its designed throughput capacity of 2.1 Bcf/d.

Capacity will drop to 1.3 Bcf/d April 17-18. At its height, the maintenance will cut flows to just 800 MMcf/d from April 19 to 20, followed by a single-day restriction to 1.7 Bcf/d on April 21, according to a critical notice issued by IEnova subsidiary, Gasoductos del Noreste (GDN).

Over the past 30 days, NET Mexico deliveries to GDN have averaged just over 2 Bcf/d, implying a roughly 60% cut to southbound flows on the pipe, which has become a critical supply artery for the country.

Total US exports to Mexico have averaged nearly 4.9 Bcf/d over the past month, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.

IMPACT

Gas consumption in northeastern Mexico could be curtailed by some 30%-40% this week as a result of the pipeline maintenance, according to information provided to S&P Global Platts by the Chamber of Industrial Commerce for the state of Nuevo Leon.

Tighter supply during the maintenance, but also backfilled volumes from LNG imports are likely to drive prices at Mexico's northeast border hubs sharply higher beginning Tuesday and continuing through weekend flow dates.

Last March, a similar maintenance on the NET Mexico Pipeline, which also restricted exports of US pipeline gas, drove LNG sendout from Mexico's Gulf Coast Altamira LNG import terminal to its second-highest on record at the time.

-- J. Robinson, jrobinson@spglobal.com

-- Isabel Milton, Isabel.Milton@spglobal.com

-- John Hilfiker, jhilfiker@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Richard Rubin, newsdesk@spglobal.com