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Mexico Should Turn to More Nuclear Power, Herrera Says

Feb. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Mexico should turn to nuclear power to reach renewable energy goals and could “easily” build two more reactors at its Laguna Verde plant, Energy Minister Jordy Herrera said.

“It’s time to put nuclear power on the table,” Herrera said during an event in Mexico City today. The ministry is recommending expanding nuclear capacity as part of its strategic energy plan through 2026.

Mexico, one of three Latin American nations that use nuclear power, has delayed for over three years a decision on building nuclear plants as lower natural-gas prices make the energy source less attractive.

The country operates a 1,360-megawatt nuclear plant in Laguna Verde, Veracruz state. In an interview Nov. 1, Herrera said Mexico’s rising gas reserves made the fossil fuel a cost-effective option over nuclear power.

To implement the ministry’s recommendations to increase Laguna Verde’s capacity, the government would need to find funding for Comision Federal de Electricidad to build new reactors, the state power company.

Mexico’s long-term energy strategy does not currently contemplate adding nuclear capacity, Herrera said. The nation could opt to build one or two more reactors, he said.

The country’s wind power capacity is poised to surpass 700 megawatts and will reach 1,500 megawatts by the end of the year, he said.

Pipeline Projects

The government is in the process of taking bids on three natural gas pipelines, according to the Energy Ministry’s long-term strategy, released today. The winners of the contracts to build three pipeline projects in Mexico’s north and one on the Yucatan Peninsula will be announced in March, Herrera said.

The ministry sees crude production rising to 2.822 million barrels a day in 2016 and 3.354 million barrels a day in 2026, according to the strategic plan.

If Mexico fails to enact the recommendations listed in the ministry’s plan, oil output would probably be 2.826 million barrels a day in 2026, according to the document.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Carlos Manuel Rodriguez in Mexico City at carlosmr@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net.

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