MIDLAND, Texas—The Midstream Business Excellence Awards took on a distinctive across-the-border flavor at the Midstream Texas conference, honoring a Canadian executive, a Canadian company’s acquisition and a U.S. company’s pioneering efforts to move natural gas to Mexico.

Roy Patton, executive vice president of Howard Midstream Energy Partners, accepted the Project of the Year award for his company’s Nueva Era pipeline system linking Texas-sourced natural gas to Monterrey, Mexico.

“Not only is it a good project for Howard, it is a great project for the producers—primarily in south Texas; it gives them a direct link to the premium and growing market which is Mexico— and it’s a great project for the Mexicans,” Patton said. “It gives them access to relatively cheap natural gas to power their power plants.”

Patton added that Mexico’s longer-term strategy is to lower its domestic electricity prices and use that to lure back manufacturers that left the country to open factories in Asia.

“A strong Mexico is good for the United States,” he said.

Service is scheduled to begin next month for Nueva Era. The project consists of 190 miles of 30-in. pipe with capacity exceeding 500 MMcf/d. It was one of the earliest efforts to take advantage of Mexico’s energy reform that invited investment from foreign companies and is positioned for the country’s growing demand for natural gas for electrical power generation. Howard’s primary customer is CFE, Mexico’s electric utility.

Russ Girling, president and CEO of TransCanada Corp. (NYSE: TRP) won the award for Executive of the Year. He guided his company through the US$13 billion acquisition of Columbia Pipeline Group in 2016, a transaction that brought major natural gas transmission assets to TransCanada.

The $28 billion takeover of Houston-based Spectra Energy Corp. by Enbridge Inc. (NYSE: ENB) claimed the award for Deal of the Year. Enbridge was No. 4 on the recently released Midstream 50 list published by Midstream Business, and Spectra was No. 7 on the list that ranks operators by 2016 EBITDA.

The deal created a midstream colossus with market capitalization as of May 22 of about US$65 billion and enterprise value of about $129 billion. The value of current projects totals more than $55 billion and the combined company now operates more than 34,000 miles of natural gas pipelines, 17,500 miles of liquids pipelines and 415 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas storage.

Joseph Markman can be reached at jmarkman@hartenergy.com and @JHMarkman.