Fermaca wins two gas pipeline projects worth $642m

The latest contracts allow the natural gas pipeline owner and operator, backed by Partners Group, to further expand its pipeline network in Mexico.

Mexican natural gas pipeline operator Fermaca, majority-owned by Partners Group, has emerged as the preferred bidder for two new gas pipeline projects in Mexico with a combined value of $642.5 million.

According to CFE, the country’s state-owned power utility, Fermaca’s $269.9 million bid for the Villa de Reyes-Aguascalientes-Guadalajara pipeline was the lowest, beating consortia led by Enagas and Transcanada.

Fermaca will develop, build, finance and operate the 389km pipeline, which will have a capacity of 886 million cubic feet per day (MMcfd). Once completed, the pipeline is expected to begin commercial operation in January 2018 and will interconnect with the La Laguna-Aguascalientes pipeline, the second project Fermaca was awarded last month.

Once again, Fermaca beat Transcanada and IEnova for the development of La Laguna-Aguascalientes, a 600km pipeline with a capacity of 1,189 MMscfd, with a bid of $372.6 million. In addition to interconnecting with the Villa de Reyes-Aguascalientes-Guadalajara pipeline, La Laguna-Aguascalientes will also connect to El Encino-La Laguna, a pipeline Fermaca is currently building and which is scheduled to begin operations in July.

El Encino-La Laguna in turn will connect with Fermaca’s existing Tarahumara pipeline and transport 1,500 million cubic feet of gas per day.

The two latest projects awarded to Fermaca vindicate its majority shareholder, Swiss private markets investment firm Partners Group, which last year raised more than $500 million to finance the Mexican gas pipeline operator’s continued expansion.

The additional equity will also “enable Fermaca to build its business in the coming months and reach a level of maturity and size that will enable [it] to compete in Mexico against the more established incumbents Sempra and Transcanada,” Partners Group’s managing director for private infrastructure Jean Perarnaud told Infrastructure Investor at the time.

Partners acquired its majority stake in Fermaca in February 2014 for $750 million. It has not disclosed the exact ownership interest it holds in the company.

Founded in 1996, Partners has $50 billion in assets under management, of which approximately $5 billion represents infrastructure. The firm also invests in private equity, real estate and debt.

In addition to its Swiss headquarters, Partners has another 17 offices worldwide. It opened its newest one in Houston, in August 2014, in a bid to build out its private markets coverage in the US and Latin America.