Guaymas-El Oro Pipeline

From Global Energy Monitor
This article is part of the Global Fossil Infrastructure Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor.

The Guaymas-El Oro Pipeline is a natural gas pipeline running between Sonora and Sinaloa states, Mexico. Together with the adjoining Sásabe-Guaymas Gas Pipeline, it is also known as the Sonora pipeline or Gasoducto Sonora, Phase II.[1][2] Service along the Guaymas-El Oro segment of the pipeline has been interrupted since 2017 due to disputes with local communities.


The pipeline runs from Guaymas, Sonora to El Oro, Sinaloa, Mexico.

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Project Details


In October 2012, the Mexican division of Sempra International signed a 25-year contract with Mexico's Comisión Federal de Electricidad to build, own, and operate the Guaymas-El Oro project.[8] The pipeline interconnects with the El Oro-Mazatlan Pipeline[9] and is a key component of Mexico's north-northwest natural gas delivery network.[10] Construction was completed in May 2017[6][11], and the pipeline operated commercially for three months before service was disrupted in August 2017.[12]

Disruption of the Guaymas-El Oro pipeline has forced Mexico to rely more heavily on the El Encino-Topolobampo Gas Pipeline to supply natural gas to Sinaloa and other northwestern states.[13]

Suspension of service and legal disputes

The pipeline was shut down in August 2017 following an act of sabotage by indigenous Yaqui groups who oppose its operation, and as of early 2022 it remained offline pending reconstruction of a missing 10-kilometer segment.[14][12]

In 2015, the Yaqui tribe, with the exception of some members living in the Bácum community, approved a right-of-way easement agreement for the construction of the Guaymas-El Oro segment of the Sonora natural gas pipeline that crosses its territory. Representatives of the Bácum community filed a legal challenge in Mexican federal court demanding the right to withhold consent for the project and calling for stoppage of work within Yaqui territory. In 2016, the judge granted a suspension order that prohibited pipeline construction within the Bácum community territory. In 2017, an appellate court ruled that the scope of the 2016 suspension order encompassed the wider Yaqui territory, which has prevented Sempra Infrastructure from making repairs to put the pipeline back in service.[12]

In July 2019, a federal district court ruled in favor of Sempra Infrastructure and held that the Yaqui tribe was properly consulted and that consent from the Yaqui tribe was properly received. Representatives of the Bácum community appealed this decision, causing the suspension order preventing repair work within Yaqui territory to remain in place until the appeals process is exhausted. In December 2021, the court of appeals referred the matter to Mexico’s Supreme Court.[12]

In response to the suspension of service, Sempra Infrastructure has sought force majeure payments from Mexico's CFE (Federal Electricity Commission) and the two parties have been forced to repeatedly renegotiate terms of their contract to extend the pipeline's service start date.[12] CFE has agreed to resume payments only when the damaged section of the Guaymas-El Oro segment of the Sonora pipeline is repaired.[12] In the latter half of 2021, CFE was reportedly still in negotiations regarding reconstruction of the damaged pipeline segment[15], while Sempra Infrastructure continued to consider its right to terminate the contract and seek to recover costs and lost profits.[12]

Potential resumption of service

Conference with the President mentioning concerns with the Guaymas-El Oro Pipeline

In January 2022, Sempra Infrastructure and CFE signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the resumption of operations of the Guaymas El Oro pipeline in addition to the development of the Vista Pacífico LNG plant and the Vista Pacifico LNG Terminal.[16][17][18] The MOU called for rerouting the Guaymas-El Oro pipeline in a manner favoring mutual understanding, dialogue and respect towards the Yaqui people.[7] CFE will assume ownership and responsibility for constructing the new 70- to 90-kilometer segment of pipeline required to circumnavigate areas that the Yaqui consider sacred or ecologically critical.[7] Sempra Infrastructure signaled its intention to enter into a definitive agreement with respect to the pipeline in the first quarter of 2022[12], while CFE announced plans to launch a tender for engineering, procurement and construction of the new pipeline segment.[19]

As of March 2023, the US Energy Information Administration estimated that the Guaymas-El Oro pipeline would be brought back online by 2024.[20]

Interview with an environmental activist from the Yaqui tribe in Sonora - 2021

Technical description

The pipeline, operated by IEnova (Infraestructura Energética Nova SAB de CV), is 330 km (205 mi) long and 30 inches in diameter, with a capacity of 510 million cubic feet per day[3][6], or 5.3 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year.


The Guaymas-El Oro project has generated opposition from an indigenous Yaqui group in Loma de Bácum, Sonora state, whose members say they never agreed to construction of a nine-mile section of pipeline that crosses their land. In an August 2017 protest, members of the community used a backhoe to remove a 25-foot section of the pipeline, disrupting operations and perpetuating an ongoing legal battle with IEnova.[21][22][23] As of March 2018, the pipeline's status remained in limbo pending a decision by a Mexican federal district court.[11]

President AMLO announced the creation of a justice commission for the restitution of land to the Yaqui people, June 2021 Source: Mongabay

In 2019, Mexico's federal electricity commission CFE agreed to work with IEnova to reopen the blocked section of pipeline[24][25][26], and in September 2019 the government announced that it was negotiating an agreement with the Yaqui community to reroute the pipeline south to steer clear of Loma de Bácum and other Yaqui-owned lands.[14] In an August 2020 meeting with Yaqui leaders, Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador confirmed the government's support for rerouting the pipeline as a means of resolving the conflict.[27]

In September 2021, the CFE officially announced it would build a section of the pipeline between 70-90 kilometers in length that keeps in mind the concerns of the Yaqui people notably avoiding sacred areas including hills and springs.[28] However, the Yaqui people still have concerns about possible gas accidents, pollution of the Independence Aqueduct, deforestation, desertification, poverty, land rentals, and other forms of violence.[29]

In May 2023, residents of Loma de Bácum vowed to dismantle the pipeline again if the new route being developed by Sempra Energy crossed their territory, or if the Mexican government failed to comply with its promises to respect the rights of indigenous people.[30]

Environmental, Health & Human Rights Impacts

Environmental Justice Atlas has documented a wide variety of negative pipeline-related impacts affecting the Yaqui people, including noise pollution, soil erosion, deforestation, and loss of vegetation cover, along with increased corruption, militarization, police presence, violence against women and other human rights violations.[31]

Articles and resources


  1. "Informe Anual Financiero 2013 (p 36)". IEnova. April 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. "Energy Operations Map: Sonora Phase II". Sempra Energy. Retrieved 2021-03-29.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "Beyond Energy: Our Sustainability & Financial Report 2019 (p 232)" (PDF). IEnova. April 30, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. "Annual Report 2021 (p 139)". IEnova (Infraestructura Energética Nova, S.A.P.I. de C.V.). April 25, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Natural Gas Infrastructure - Sempra LNG". Sempra Infrastructure. Retrieved 2023-08-18.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 "Estatus de la Infraestructura de Gas Natural (p 11)" (PDF). SENER (Secretaría de Energía de México). October 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 García, Karol (January 31, 2022). "CFE y Sempra continuarán con gasoducto en Sonora". El Economista.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. "Sempra International Unit To Construct Natural Gas Pipeline Network In Northwestern Mexico,", PR Newswire, October 22, 2012
  9. "Guaymas-El Oro pipeline (Sonora Pipeline),", BNAmericas website, accessed April 2018
  10. "Gasoducto: La Obra que generará grandes inversiones,", Debate, December 3, 2016
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Mexico's Guaymas-El Oro natural gas pipeline waiting on court to resume operation: sources,", S&P Global, March 8, 2018
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 12.7 "Form 10-K: Sempra Energy". US Securities and Exchange Commission. December 31, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. "Plan de Negocios 2022-2026" (PDF). CFE. December 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Avanzan negociaciones entre Segob y pueblo yaqui para destrabar gasoducto Guaymas- El Oro". Noticieros Televisa. September 10, 2019.
  15. "CFE invertirá 360 mdp en 5 proyectos en Tamaulipas". Energy & Commerce. September 13, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. "La Comisión Federal De Electricidad Y Sempra Infraestructura Firman Acuerdo De Entendimiento Para El Desarrollo De Proyectos Trascendentes Para El Suministro De Gas Natural". Sempra Infraestructura. January 31, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. "New Infrastructure Opportunity on Pacific Coast". Sempra. January 31, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. Smith, Christopher (February 2, 2022). "Sempra, Mexican government agree to LNG development terms". Oil & Gas Journal.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. "Mexico's CFE Looking for Firm to Develop Natural Gas Pipeline in Baja California". NGI (Natural Gas Intelligence). April 26, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. "Liquefied natural gas will continue to lead growth in U.S. natural gas exports". U.S. Energy Information Administration. March 8, 2023. Retrieved 2023-08-01.
  21. "Before Building a $400 Million Pipeline, Make Sure Your Neighbors Are On Board". Bloomberg Politics. December 19, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. "Protesters Turn to Vandalism to Delay IEnova’s Mexico NatGas Pipeline,", Natural Gas Intel, December 26, 2017
  23. "Problems in the pipeline for Sempra's subsidiary in Mexico,", San Diego Union-Tribune, February 7, 2018
  24. "Mexico's IEnova, CFE to Work Toward Reopening Guaymas-El Oro Pipeline - Natural Gas Intelligence". Natural Gas Intelligence. February 21, 2019.
  25. "IEnova y CFE abren 'rendija' de acuerdo en gasoducto Guaymas-El Oro". Forbes México. August 5, 2019.
  26. "Shares in Mexico's IEnova rise almost 7% after pipeline deal". Reuters/Financial Post. August 27, 2019.
  27. "Ofrece AMLO a pueblo Yaqui desviar gasoducto Guaymas-El Oro en Sonora". Debate. August 6, 2020.
  28. "CFE construirá gasoductos en sistemas Guaymas-El Oro y Tuxpan-Tula". Energy21. September 9, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  29. "México: la permanente batalla de los yaquis contra el despojo". Mongabay. August 5, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  30. "Habitantes de Loma de Bácum condicionan el gasoducto Guaymas-El Oro y el Acueducto, en Sonora". Informa Oriente. May 15, 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  31. "Nación Yaqui contra el gasoducto Guaymas – El Oro, Sonora. Mexico". Environmental Justice Atlas. February 4, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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