Altamira LNG Terminal, Mexico

In August 2006 the Altamira LNG terminal in Mexico near Tampico, Tamaulipas state received its first cargo of LNG and the plant was commissioned. The Terminal de LNG de Altamira S de RL de CV is a joint venture of Royal Dutch Shell (50%), Total (25%) (joined JV in 2003), and Mitsui & Co (25%) (joined JV in 2004) and is the country's first LNG regasification terminal.

An additional four terminals are planned for the near future in Mexico; a MAC (Main Automation Contractor) provider will be selected for all four of these projects (more than likely to be Emerson). The regasification terminal will process up to 3.75 million tons of LNG per annum (MTPA) base load when in full commercial operation. The initial send-out capacity of the terminal was 300 million cubic feet a day (mcf/d) increasing to 500mcf/d from January 2007.

The Altamira LNG terminal has been constructed (construction began in 2003) because of fast growing natural gas demand in north-eastern Mexico, which is largely driven by increases in electric power demand.


The first cargo consisting of 138,000m³ of LNG was delivered via Shell-operated vessel SS Gracilis after a 14-day journey from the Nigeria LNG plant in Africa. Subsequent LNG cargos will be delivered by both Shell and Total, which hold a respective 75% and 25% interest of the terminal's capacity rights.

Shell also has an agreement to buy its share of LNG for the plant, some 500mcf/d, from Australia's Gorgon project. The terminal consists of two LNG storage tanks of 150,000m³, open rack vaporisers and pipelines and can accommodate ships of up to 200,000m³ in size.


Mexico's power authority, Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE), has agreed to buy 5.2bcmpa of regasified LNG for 15 years from Altamira. The LNG will be used for power generation to support existing and future industry in the north-east section of the country. Commercial deliveries of gas to CFE started in November 2006.

The Royal Dutch / Shell Group plans to import only enough liquefied natural gas to the Altamira project to meet its commitments to Mexican utility CFE despite initial plans to import additional gas to sell to other customers in Mexico.

PEMEX, Mexico's state-owned, nationalised petroleum company will also be hoping to distribute excess gas throughout the country. CFE expects to save $5m a year by buying gas from Altamira rather than from state oil firm Pemex.


"The LNG will be used for power generation to support existing and future industry in north-east Mexico."

Emerson (Mexico) was chosen as the main automation contractor for the terminal and was asked to digitally automate the regasification terminal. Emerson is able to provide local support and also their PlantWeb digital automation system.

PlantWeb digital automation technologies at the Altamira Regas Terminal include the DeltaV automation system, AMS suite: intelligent device manager, and rosemount smart temperature and pressure transmitters.

In addition, Emerson has integrated metering skids, vibration equipment monitoring, fire and gas, safety, and emergency shutdown systems. Emerson also complied fully with the Shell design engineering practices as required by the Shell / Total / Mitsui consortium.

Overall engineering and construction was provided by ICA, Fluor and IHI. Hawke Transit Systems was also involved in the installation of major equipment at the terminal.

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