Natural Gas Pipeline Construction Begins in Cameron Co.
BROWNSVILLE - Raul Mares Sr. has been fishing in the Laguna Madre for decades. Recently, on his way from Brownsville to the Jaime Zapata Memorial Boat Ramp, he's noticed some construction.
"I was wondering what was going on, but I didn't know what it was," Mares said.
Red and white signs can be seen along Highway 48, from the Port of Brownsville to just past the Carl Joe Gayman Bahia Grande Restoration Channel.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS discovered construction has begun in the area to install a natural gas pipeline, that spans five counties.
It's the Valley Crossing Pipeline Project, according to company spokesman Devin Hotzel.
The 168-mile natural gas pipeline is being built from Agua Dulce, in Nueces County, to a pipeline in Mexico.
It will pass through Cameron County and go nine miles east of Brownsville, into the Gulf of Mexico, Hotzel said.
The recent energy reform in Mexico, Hotzel said, is driving up the demand for clean burning natural gas.
"They are in the process of trying to stabilize their electric grid in Mexico and transition from dirtier fuel oils and other sources," Hotzel said. "So, they have an increased demand for the natural gas."
Just last year, Valley Crossing Pipeline was awarded a $1.5 billion contract by the Federal Electricity Commission in Mexico. It provides gas for an estimated 37 million customers, Hotzel added.
Although construction is visible now, he mentioned, once the pipeline is in, people in the Valley won't notice it's even there.
"Some of those pipes will be drilled, so those areas will be significantly deeper than others," Hotzel said. "But at a minimum, they will be buried five feet deep."
Mares said he worked in refineries up north for much of his career.
"I always worked in the gas and (saw) the explosions, and stuff like that," he said.
He's hoping no mistakes are made during construction on this pipeline, near his favorite fishing spot.
Hotzel couldn't specify how much in property taxes Cameron County stands to profit from the pipeline, but added that in the next 35 years, Valley Crossing Pipeline will pay a sum of $183 million in property taxes to all five counties, which the pipeline goes through.
Port of Brownsville spokeswoman Patty Gonzales said Valley Crossing Pipeline and the Port of Brownsville have agreed to a 50-year property lease.
The lease includes 40 acres of land for a compression station, and easement around the port and under the ship channel crossing.
Valley Crossing Pipeline will pay $153,000 per year for the lease, Gonzales added.
Construction is expected to last through October 2018, Hotzel said.