“Texas is a gas state,” said Michael Webber, an energy resources professor at the University of Texas at Austin. While he said all of Texas’ energy sources share blame for the power crisis — at least one nuclear power plant has partially shut down, most notably — the natural gas industry is producing significantly less power than normal. As a result, Governor Greg Abbott directed Texas natural gas providers not to ship outside the state until Sunday and asked the state energy regulator to enforce his export ban.
Kinder Morgan’s Natural Gas Pipeline Co reported capacity constraints at various locations on its pipeline system, while Enable Gas Transmission announced it was taking measures to ensure adequate supply for customers.
Abbott's ban prompted a response from officials in Mexico, which relies on imports via pipeline from Texas. More than 40% of U.S. natural gas exports come from Texas.
The winter storm sweeping through much of continental United States with Arctic-like record-setting temperatures has literally frozen the natural gas pipelines crisscrossing much of Texas, the second largest state in the country, after Alaska. Many are not designed to withstand such low temperatures on equipment or during production.
The impact of the ban could be greater if Abbott's move affects sales of LNG cargoes from Texas ports - the alternative supply route Mexico has turned to in order to partially replace gas imported via pipelines.
At least one LNG cargo bound for Mexico's Altamira port was setting sail on Wednesday from Texas. Mexico also regularly imports U.S. natural gas from other states, including California, and LNG from other countries.