The struggle for control of the northern grid in Chile has precedence in the central region, and now, further south, where El Paso International Co. and partners are building the $380 million Gasoducto del Pacifico pipeline.
Some 325 miles of pipe will be laid across the Andes from Argentina. The project, 300 miles south of Santiago, is set to be in service by late 1999.
Gasoducto del Pacifico includes a $44-million transportation and marketing company (em Servicios de Gas Natural (em that will serve industrial customers in the region. Gas Natural del Sur, a $14-million investment in a commercial-resident distribution system, will serve customers in and around Concepción, a city of about one million. Initial delivery capacity of the system is estimated at 140 million cubic feet of gas per day. Eventually, the project will provide power generation capability to the region.
Gasoducto del Pacifico is the latest revelation of how much confidence American utilities have in Chile's demand growth. The market for electric and natural gas is so feverish and extensive that it's now being attacked on a sub-regional level.
El Paso Energy International, a unit of El Paso Energy Corp. of Houston, will own 21.8 percent of the project through its Triunion Energy joint venture. NOVA Corp. of Calgary will have a 30 percent stake. Other partners include Chile's Empresa Nacional del Petróleo, Compania de Consumidores de Gas S.A., and YPF S.A. of Argentina.
(em Joseph F. Schuler Jr., senior associate editor