Mexico's energy grid largely restored following earthquake

20 September 2017 17:52 Source:ICIS

Mexico’s mainland SEN power network appeared to be the worst hit piece of the country’s energy infrastructure following the 7.1 magnitude earthquake which hit central and southern parts of the country on 19 September.

State power utility CFE, the operator of the country’s transmission grid, reported on 20 September that 4.8m people had been left without power across the Mexico City capital region and the surrounding states of Mexico, Morelos, Puebla and Oaxaca.

Power had been restored to around 92% of those affected by the outages as of 8:00 a.m. Mexico City time on 20 September, 19 hours after the earthquake occurred. The majority of those still without service were located in the capital itself, where 1.8m people had been impacted.

The utility had deployed 32 emergency generators across the Valle de Mexico region which includes the capital and Mexico state in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, the epicentre of which was located 150km south of Mexico City in Puebla state. Inspections of the company’s generation assets revealed no serious plant damage, CFE added in a statement.

Power market operator CENACE reported an immediate drop of 3GW in demand across the SEN grid following the earthquake, due mainly to the power outages.

While service re-connections brought actual demand closer to predicted levels throughout the afternoon of 19 September and the following morning, consumption across the grid remained 0.5GW below average as of 11:00 a.m. local time on 20 September.

Market sources reported that the country’s Sistrangas natural gas transmission system remained fully operational following the earthquake. No immediate fall in pipeline gas imports from the US had been reported through the morning of 20 September, one source said.

Gas flows through TransCanada’s Tamazunchale pipeline which supplies volumes to CFE power plants in the Valle de Mexico region were up by 140,000 Gigajoules - 132 million cubic feet - per day between 19 and 20 September. This was most likely done in response to power transmission line outages in other parts of Mexico.

On a local level, gas leaks were reported in central Mexico City following the earthquake. A spokesperson for distributor Gas Natural Mexico, a subsidiary of Spain’s Gas Natural Fenosa, said that its natural gas distribution network in Mexico City was functioning normally on 20 September without major damage to its infrastructure.

However, Gas Natural Mexico said it dealt with more than 575 urgent service requests, affecting 500,000 clients in areas affected by the earthquake. james.fowler@icis.com and claudia.espinosa@icis.com

By James Fowler