Oil Report

Mexico planning more nuclear plants in future -CFE

MEXICO CITY, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Mexico needs to expand its fledgling nuclear energy industry to meet rising demand but it will be 10 years before a new plant could be up and running, a Federal Electricity Commission official said on Friday.

“In the long term, nuclear energy will have to play an important role in Mexico,” Alberto Ramos, the CFE’s deputy director of project development, told an energy event.

“We couldn’t do it for 10 years. (But) I think it’s going to be inevitable that we have a definitive long-term (nuclear) program in this country.”

Mexico currently has one nuclear power plant, at Laguna Verde in Veracruz state, which opened in 1990 and accounts for around 3 percent of the state-run CFE’s installed capacity.

Despite lingering concerns over safety and nuclear waste, nuclear energy is receiving renewed attention worldwide as countries seek to wean themselves off oil and switch to power sources that contribute less to climate change.

For the time being the CFE plans to add around 63 new conventional power plants over the next 10 years to satisfy projected growth in demand of roughly 5 percent a year, Ramos said.

The CFE is focusing on plants fueled by natural gas and closing old power stations that run on dirtier fuels. It aims to be generating around 60 percent of its power from natural gas by 2015 from roughly 45 percent now.

That is driving a rush in Mexico to start importing more liquefied natural gas (LNG) from overseas to fill a shortfall in domestic natural gas production.

State oil monopoly Pemex’s deputy director of natural gas, Salvador Ortiz, said Mexican demand for natural gas was seen growing at 6 percent annually over the next few years and domestic output at just 2 percent.