The LNG storage facility would be built on 25 acres north of Double Eagle II Airport. Credit: New Mexico Gas Company

New Mexico Gas Company is looking to replace its Liquefied Natural Gas storage facility in west Texas with a $180 million state-of-the-art complex in Rio Rancho.

NMGC last month applied for a certificate of public convenience and necessity with the Public Regulation Commission to build the LNG storage facility on a 25-acre parcel of a 160-acre property the company has an option to buy on the outskirts of Rio Rancho north of Double Eagle II Airport.

A spokesperson for NMGC told Sandoval Signpost relocating the storage facility would benefit customers by ensuring a reliable gas supply and reducing price volatility.

“The advantage,” Tim Korte said, “is we would fill the tank in the summer when prices are generally lower. The markets are driven by supply and demand, so the advantage is you buy in summer and have it (in storage) for winter when prices are higher.”

Korte said the company currently stores LNG in underground caverns on leased property in west Texas. Moving the facility to Rio Rancho where it can connect with the existing network of pipelines would also speed up distribution in an emergency situation. He said decisions now requiring 24-hour advance notice could be accomplished in about an hour. 

The installation in Rio Rancho would be large, consisting of a storage tank with a capacity of 1 billion cubic feet. 

LNG, an odorless, colorless, cryogenic liquid, is stored at minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit and takes up about 1/600th of the volume of natural gas in the gaseous state, according to a news release. The facility in Rio Rancho would be capable of liquefying natural gas into LNG and vaporizing LNG back into national gas when needed. 

Korte said LNG storage facilities are safe and can be found throughout the country. Confining the facility to 25 acres on a much larger property serves as a buffer, he said, and does provide a layer of protection in the unlikely event of a spill.

Korte said the company doesn’t expect a decision from the PRC for several months. If approved, Korte said it would take less than a year to build the facility.

“Assuming everything remains on the timeline it normally does, construction could begin late 2024 or early 2025,” he said, adding that it would be operational by 2026.

While rates wouldn’t immediately increase, NMGC’s news release says cost recovery would be part of a future rate case after the facility becomes operational.

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