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Mexico plans to build a $1.4 billion "energy corridor" between the Gulf Coast and the Pacific, state energy company Pemex said Thursday, in what appears to be part of a drive to reduce the country's dependence on the US market.

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Pemex said the strategy is based on linking the nation's concentration of oil and gas production on the Gulf Coast with potential markets in Asia, Central and South America.

The corridor would run along the Isthmus of Tehuantepec between the Gulf Coast oil and petrochemicals port of Pajaritos and Salina Cruz, the only Mexican oil port on the Pacific Coast.

The $1.4 billion investment would include construction of pipelines to carry natural gas, propane and naphtha, as well as storage and port facilities, Pemex said in a statement.

"This strategy will permit fuel exports to the Far East, in order to capitalize on the existing price differentials between North America and the markets in Asia," it said.

Pemex did not mention an LNG facility as part of the plan.

The company said that it "aims to promote participation and competition in the global energy market." It added that it "will seek the best form of association for the development of the initiatives that form the strategy." Mexican crude exports to the United States have fallen by 43% over the last decade. Last year, Mexico exported 1.19 million b/d of crude, of which 850,000 b/d was sent to the US.

--Ronald Buchanan,
--Edited by Lisa Miller,