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Russ Girling, president and CEO of TransCanada Corp., addresses the company's annual meeting in Calgary, Friday, April 27, 2012.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS

TransCanada Corp. plans to invest about $1-billion (U.S.) in a new natural gas pipeline in Mexico.

The Calgary-based pipeline giant announced Thursday that it has been awarded a contract to build, own and operate the pipeline by Mexico's federal power company, the Comision Federal de Electricidad or CFE.

The 530-kilometre-long El Encino-to-Topolobampo pipeline will have a contracted capacity of 670 million cubic feet per day and is supported by a 25-year natural gas transportation services contract.

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"Mexico's government is engaged in a comprehensive plan to expand the nation's electrical grid and generating capacity and much of that generation will be natural gas fired," TransCanada president and CEO Russ Girling said in making the announcement.

"This award is another example of TransCanada's commitment to help develop Mexico's energy infrastructure in a sustainable and cost-efficient manner."

The Topolobampo pipeline begins in El Encino, in Chihuahua state, and terminates in Topolobampo, in Sinaloa state, interconnecting with other pipelines that are expected to be built as a result of separate bid processes by the CFE.

Mr. Girling said TransCanada is bidding on a number of CFE proposals. The company has already built and is operating the Guadalajara and Tamazunchale pipelines and will soon break ground on a Tamazunchale pipeline extension.

TransCanada operates a network of natural gas pipelines that extends more than 68,500 kilometres and tap into virtually all major gas supply basins in North America. It is also developing one of North America's largest oil delivery systems.

The company began work this summer on a $2.3-billion crude pipeline connecting an oil storage hub at Cushing Okla., to Texas refineries. It's expected to start up in mid to late 2013.

The Gulf Coast pipeline was initially part of TransCanada's $7.6-billion Keystone XL proposal, which would have sent Alberta crude to the Gulf via six U.S. states but has been held up by political and environmental wrangling in the United States.

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