Oil report

Mexican LNG demand seen up 60 pct in 2010

MEXICO CITY Dec 29 (Reuters) - Mexican imports of liquefied natural gas will climb by 60 percent in 2010 and should keep rising rapidly over the next decade, the government said in its annual natural gas demand forecast.

LNG imports will average 586 million cubic feet per day in 2010, up from 367 million cubic feet per day this year.

Most of the increase will be fed through the Altamira LNG regasification terminal on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

Altamira, which handled approximately 350 million cubic feet per day of gas this year, should operate at its capacity of 500 million cubic feet per day in 2010, the report said.

Imports to the Ensenada terminal on the Pacific Coast in Baja California will also rise as Mexico’s state power monopoly starts to fuel some Tijuana area plants with gas from the terminal.

Mexican LNG imports will continue rising beyond 2012 when the country’s third regasification terminal at Manzanillo on the Pacific coast starts up in 2011. The terminal is expected to reach capacity of 500 million cubic feet per day by 2018.

The government expects LNG imports to reach more than 2 billion cubic feet per day by 2017. LNG will meet 32 percent of projected domestic gas demand in 2024, the government said. (Reporting by Robert Campbell; Editing by David Gregorio)