Chihuahua state authorities and officials from TransCanada Corporation officially inaugurated the Topolobampo-El Encino Pipeline project, which provides capacity for 670 million cubic feet of natural gas per day to markets in the states of Chihuahua and Sinaloa.
The project represents an investment of approximately US$1.2 billion and provides the upstream interconnection with the company’s Mazatlan Pipeline.
The project involved the construction of approximately 560 kilometers (348 miles) of 30-inch diameter pipeline from El Encino, near Chihuahua state capital, to Topolobampo, near the city of Los Mochis, Sinaloa.
Combined, the Topolobampo and Mazatlan pipelines form a system that adds over 870 kilometres (540 miles) of critical energy infrastructure that will play a fundamental role in providing natural gas to power plants, industrial and urban markets for the economic development of the northwest region of Mexico.
The construction of the Topolobampo Pipeline presented some of the most demanding construction challenges in the country given the geography along the route, including crossing the Tarahumara mountain range near the Copper Canyon in the state of Chihuahua. TransCanada used innovative techniques such as a raised bore to cross the extreme steep cliff faces and air cranes for transporting pipes to remote locations along the route.
At the opening ceremony, Governor Javier Corral Jurado commented that currently Chihuahua has the most important gas pipeline network in Mexico, with nearly 2,000 kilometers of total length crossing the state from north to south and from east to west, which benefits directly to 29 municipalities.
This network of gas pipelines will be fed directly by the Waha region in Texas (Permian Basin), which is the region with the most competitive natural gas prices in the U.S.
Corral considered that the gas pipeline is an extraordinary area of opportunity that should be used to promote the development of new investment projects as diverse as the generation of clean energy, strengthening of the infrastructure of the tourism sector, productive projects in rural communities and new industrial parks.
The director of the pipeline project, Gustavo Blejer, said it took 4,000 people, 22 million “man-hours”, almost 25 million kilometers traveled by the company's vehicles; more than 55 months of work; more than 150,000 tons of steel that now cross the state, but “many more tons of dreams, of ingenuity and effort of many people who had the vision” to get the job done.
Blejer added that since the Chihuahua-Pacífico (Chepe) railway, no other project had gone through the Sierra Tarahumara to connect the states of Chihuahua and Sinaloa. “The eyes of the world were on this project,” he said.