Venezuela’s Maduro offers natural gas to Mexico, experts question plan

FILE PHOTO: A state oil company PDVSA’s logo is seen at a gas station in Caracas, Venezuela May 17, 2019. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Friday said the country should propose supplying natural gas to Mexico, which this week experienced disruptions to its supplies from Texas, though energy experts dismissed the plan as unrealistic.

Texas banned out-of-state exports this week during an unprecedented cold snap, prompting Mexico to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) under emergency conditions.

“We must speak with Mexico’s government because I have seen the problem with gas supply and the effort that President [Andres Manuel] Lopez Obrador is making to resolve it,” Maduro said in a speech at state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela’s headquarters.

“We should propose that we become secure suppliers of gas to Mexico.”

Maduro did not provide further details. Venezuela does not have a liquefaction plant to convert natural gas into LNG, which would be necessary to send the gas via sea, industry experts said. Cash-strapped Venezuela, under heavy U.S. sanctions, would struggle to finance such a project.

Venezuela has vast gas reserves and could in theory export gas to neighboring Trinidad and Tobago, which has several LNG plants, but there is currently no pipeline linking the two countries.

During the speech, Maduro said he had signed a decree extending an “energy emergency” declaration in the oil industry for another year, citing U.S. sanctions on the state oil company.

Oil minister Tareck El Aissami said during the event that PDVSA’s crude production would reach 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) this year. The South American country told OPEC that it produced 484,000 bpd in January, less than half its 2019 average of 1 million bpd.

Reporting by Vivian Sequera and Deisy Buitrago in Caracas, and Luc Cohen in New York; editing by Grant McCool

Source: Reuters

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